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T)o cum {jtoifte T)e Agti)' OnopA 114 h-GipeAtiti 


An Introduction to Social Science. 



Author of “ Freemasonry and the Anti-Christian Movement," 
“ Ireland’s Peril," etc. 

“ When once men recognise, both in privaic and public life, that Christ 
is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well- 
ordered discipline, peace and harmony ." — Pius XI in the Encyclical on 
the Kingship of Jesus Christ. 




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®tu* gor& Jesus (£t?rist, 
King of tl?e JE>ort&, 

of eoery 6tate and Nation. 

“ Tc nationum Paesides 
Honore tollant publico 
Colant magistri, judices. 

Leges et artes exprimant.” 

" May rulers in tiieir people’s name 
Thy Godhead solemnly proclaim. 

Judges and teachers homage pay 
Arts and the law accept Thy sway!” 

(From the Roman Breviary — Office of Feast of Jesus Christ the King). 



Preface ........ xiii 

Preliminary Chapter xv 



Introductory Note ...... I 


Pagan Society in the Early Roman Empire . 4 


Christian Society in the Fifth Century . . ~ 


The Early Middle Ages . . . . .14 

Art. I — General Historical Survey (5tli to 1 Ltli 

centuries) . . . . . .14 

Art. 2 — Social Regeneration of the Barbarians . 16 

Art. 3 — Monasticism . . . . . .18 

Art. 4 — Abolition of Slavery . . . .21 

Art. 5 — Charity of the Church .... 22 


The Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries — 

Historical Outline ..... 24 


Social and Political Principles of Christendom 30 


Mediaeval Economic Teaching .... 35 

Art. 1 — Ownership of Goods . . . .35 

Art. 2 — The Just Price . . . . .42 

Art. 3 — Usury . . . . . . .46 


VI 11 




Social Classes in Medleval Times 

. . 



1 — The Feudal Nobility 




2 — The Agricultural Class . 




3 — The Industrial Workers . 




Social Results of Protestantism 




1 — Introductory 




2 — Rise and Spread of Protestantism 

. , 



3 — Direct Consequences of the Protestant 

Revolt .... 

w . 



A— Protestantism and Pauperism 

. . 



5 — Protestantism and Morality . 




Liberalism ...... 



1 — What is Liberalism 1 



2 — Rationalism or Naturalism 



3 — Political Liberalism 



4 — Effects of Political Liberalism on 


Life .... 



5 — Liberal Catholicism 



G — Economic Liberalism 



7 — Critique of Economic Liberalism 



Individualistic Capitalism . 

. . 



1 — The Capitalist Regime and Individualistic 





2 — Rise and Growth of the Capitalist Economic 

Regime .... 

# # 



3 — Rise of Individualistic Capitalism 




4 — Principles Underlying Individualistic 


. • 



5 — Evil Results of Individualistic Capitalism 



Socialism ...... 




1 — Introduction 





Art. 2 — idealistic Communism . . . .158 

Art. 3 — Nature of Socialism . . . .163 

Art. 3A-Historical Sketch of Socialism . .167 

Art. 4 — Non-Catholic Social Movements and 

Socialism ...... 176 

Art. 5 — Critique of Socialism . . . .179 


Revolutionary Communism (Bolshevism) . .189 

Art. 1 — Historical Sketch . . . . .189 

Art. 2 — Communist International Activities . 195 

Art. 3 The Soviet Governmental System . . 200 

Art. 4 — The Soviet Internal Policy . . . 207 


Freemasonry and Allied Societies . . . 221 

Art. 1 — The Rise and Spread of Freemasonry . 221 

Art. 2 — Masonic Aims, Character and Policy . 230 

Art. 3 — Masonic Organisation .... 234 

Art. 4 — Masonic Methods and Means . . . 239 


The Social Question ...... 242 


The Catholic Social Movement .... 249 

Art. 1 — Its Nature ...... 249 

Art. 2 — Historical Sketch ..... 254 

Art. 3 — The Catholic Organisations . . . 265 



Introductory Note .... 

. 277 


The Individual ..... 

. 278 

Art. 1— Human Personality 

. 278 

Art. 2 — Rights and Duties 

. 284 

Art. 3 — Duty of Religion . 

. 289 




Duties and Rights Regarding One’s Self . 
Art. 1 — Duty and Right of Labour 
Art. 2 — The Right to Acquire Property 
Art. 3 — Christian Concept of Property Rights 
Art. 4 — Right to Personal Freedom 


The Family ....... 

Art. 1 — General Principles .... 

Art. 2 — The Family Homestead .... 


Husband and Wife ...... 

Art. 1 — The Marriage Contract .... 

Art. 2 — Non-Christian Attitude Towards Marriage 

Parents and Children — Education 

Art. 1 — Introduction ..... 

Art. 2 — Functions of Parents in Education . 

Art. 3 — The Church’s Function in Education 
Art. 4 — Functions of the State in Education 
Art. 5 — The Moral and Religious Elements in the 
Schools ...... 

Art. 6 — Some Further Points Regarding Christian 
Education ..... 


Master and Servant (Employer and Employed) 
Art. 1 — General Principles .... 

Art. 2 — The Modern Labour Problem . 

Art. 3 — Duties and Rights of Employers and 
Employed ..... 

Art. 4— Implications of an Equitable Wage 
Contract ...... 

Art. 5 — Further Means to be Employed in Solving 
the Labour Problem 

Art. G — Industrial Associations .... 





























The Social Status of Women . . . .422 

Art. 1 — Sphere of the Two Sexes in the Social 

Organism ..... 423 

Art. 2 — The Social Status of Women in Historical 

Times ...... 429 

Art. 3 — The Feminist Movement . . . 435 

Art. 4 — Some Social Aspects of Feminism . . 442 


The State ........ 451 

Art. 1 — Nature of the State .... 452 

Art. 2 — Origin of the State .... 456 

Art. 3 — Functions of the State . . . .461 

Art. 4 — Functions of the State Regarding Religion 

and Morals ..... 465 

Art. 5 — The Constituent Parts and Organisation 

of the State ..... 470 

Art. 6 — The Central Authority in the State . .476 


Justice ........ 484 

Art. 1 — The Nature of Justice .... 485 

Art. 2 — Commutative Justice .... 491 


Legal Justice ....... 493 

Art. 1 — General Principles .... 493 

Art. 2 — Obligations of Legal Justice . . . 496 

Art. 3 — Duties Regarding the People’s Material 

Well-being ..... 503 


Distributive Justice ..... 514 

Art. 1 — General Principles . . . .514 

Art. 2 — Taxes ....... 520 

Art. 3 — Taxing of Land Values .... 528 

Art. 4 — Appointment to Public Offices . .535 




Charity 539 

Art. 1 — Nature and Motives of the Virtue of 

Charity ...... 541 

Art. 2 — The Precept of Almsgiving . . . 548 

Art. 3 — The Church’s Practice and Discipline . 560 

Art. 4 — Practical Application of the Church’s 

Teaching ...... 565 


Patriotism ........ 573 

Art. 1 — Introductory ..... 573 

Art. 2 — Virtue of Patriotism .... 575 

Art. 3— Patriotism and the Christian Law . . 587 

Art. 4 — Duties of Patriotism .... 592 


The Chhrch ....... 600 

Art. 1 — Prerogatives of the Church . . . 601 

Art. 2 — Relations Between Church and State . 607 

Art. 3 — The Church and Social Well-being . . 614 

Art. 4 — The Priest and Social Action . . .619 


Social Life in Mediaeval Ireland . . . 629 


Historical Background of the Social Question 

in Ireland ....... 645 


Social Question in Ireland .... 656 


. 675 


The matter of the present book was originally prepared in 
connection with the writer’s duties as Professor of Social 
Science in Milltown Park, Dublin. The greater part of it 
has been already published in the Irish Ecclesiastical Record 
and the Irish Monthly between the years 1924 and 1930. 
The same matter has formed the basis of a series of lectures 
(of which summaries have appeared weekly in the Irish 
Catholic) which the writer has been giving to the Central 
Branch of An Rioyhacht since the foundation of that 
association in 1926. 1 Grateful acknowledgments are due 
to the editors of the Irish Ecclesiastical Record and the 
Irish Monthly for their kind permission to republish in their 
present form the articles which appeared in these reviews. 

The book is intended primarily for students of Social 
Science who accept the Church’s teaching. Its main purpose 
is to summarise and present in a consecutive and more or 
less scientific form the main elements of the teachings of 
the Roman Pontiffs (especially Leo XIII and our present 
Holy Father Pius XI), the Catholic Bishops and the standard 
Catholic authors on questions connected with social organ- 
isation and public fife, including such topics as personal 
rights and duties, the privileges and position of the family 
in the social organism, the interrelations of capital and 
labour, the place of religion in public fife, education, the 
functions of the State, its constitution, laws and adminis- 
tration, the due interrelations of its component parts with 
one another, its relations with the Church, etc. 

Here and there in the book will be found suggestions 
borrowed mostly from approved Catholic writers, as to 
practical means of realising Christian principles and ideals 
in social and civic organisation. The principal non-Catholic 

1 An Rioghacht (the League of the Kingship of Christ) was founded in 
Dublin, October 31, 1926, on the occasion of the first celebration of the 
Feast of Jesus Christ the King. Its objects are the study and propagation 
of Catholic social principles and the promotion of Catholic Action. 




theories on the subjects discussed, and modern non-Christian 
tendencies and movements are also dealt with ; and the 
well-being of the people under the Christian regime as 
illustrated from history is compared with their position in 
the non-Christian State. 

Following the precedent of French, American and English 
writers on the same subjects, the author has striven to give 
special prominence to those aspects of the questions dealt 
with, which seem to have special importance in his own 
country ; and he naturally chooses bis illustrations of 
principles and their application from existing circumstances 
in Ireland, the country with which he is most familiar. 
The main portions of the work, however, apply to all 
countries. Hence the writer hopes that the book may 
prove useful even to non-Irish readers. On that account 
he has relegated to Appendices the treatment of certain 
aspects of the social question which are rooted in historical 
causes peculiar to Ireland. 

The writer wishes to thank very sincerely the kind friends 
whose invaluable assistance and patient collaboration have 
enabled him to complete much sooner than he could other- 
wise have hoped the tedious work of preparing the book 
for publication. He wishes also to thank those other 
friends whose helpful advice and friendly criticism have 
assisted him very much in the work of revision. Finally, he 
gladly acknowledges the great assistance he has received 
from the discussions carried on during the past five years 
at the meetings of An Rioghacht. These discussions have 
served especially to throw light on many practical questions, 
and have given the writer an insight into certain aspects 
of his subject with which he would be otherwise un- 

E. C. 

Milltown Park, Dublin. 

Feast of Jesus Christ the King, 1931. 



(An Introduction to Social Science) 1 


A Christian State is one in which the laws and adminis- 
tration as well as the organised activities and general outlook 
of the citizens are in accordance with Christian principles. 
These principles, in so far as they are applicable to social 
and public life, are practically identical with the dictates 
of the natural law. It is with these principles and their 
practical application in the life of the State that Social 
Science has to do. 

Term Sociology or Social Science . 2 — -The term Social 
Science or Sociology means etymologically the science of 
Society or the science that deals with man in his social 
relations. The subject, however, notwithstanding its great 
importance at the present day, has scarcely yet secured full 
recognition, at least among non-Catholic writers, as a distinct 
science ; nor are men in agreement as to its complete object 
and scope. 

Although there are chairs of Sociology in very many of 
the universities of the world, it does not appear that the 

1 CI. Maritain — Le Conflit de la Morale el de la Sociologie (Paris, 1927) ; 
Devas — Political Economy , 3rd edit. (London, Longmans, 1920), “Epilogue” 
pp. 633-662 ; Cronin — Primer of the Principles of Social Science (Dublin, 
1927) ; Antoine — Cours d‘ Economic Sociale, pp. 1-5 (6th edit., Paris, 1920) ; 
Parkinson — Primer of Social Science, “ Introductory ” ; Macksey — Argu- 
menla Sociologica (Romae, 1918), cap. 11. See also Gide — Political Economy, 
chap. 11, and History of Economic Doctrines, book iv, chap. 1. (Doth 
books translated from the French, are published by Harrap & Co., London.) 

2 The Graeco-Latin hybrid term Sociology which is sometimes used as 
a synonym for Social Science was first brought into currency by the French 
Positivist Philosopher, Auguste Comte (1789-1857). See Devas, Antoine, 
Gide, loc. cit. 




sciences taught under that name in the different universities 
are always founded on the same principles, or that the 
subject-matter dealt with is the same in every case. Most 
Catholic writers, however, now recognise social studies as a 
distinct science and are in substantial agreement as to its 
object and scope. 

Non-Christian Sociology. — According to Auguste Comte 
and the writers of the Positivist School of Philosophy, the 
purpose of Sociology would be to collect and co-ordinate 
the facts of human history which bear upon the intellectual 
and social development of the human race, in order to 
found upon the knowledge thus obtained a complete scheme 
for the direction of individual and social conduct. Such a 
view, which would make custom and utility the sole rule 
of human actions, and eliminate completely God’s eternal 
lav/, cannot, of course, be admitted by the Christian 

Herbert Spencer and other writers of the Evolutionist 
school, who deny human liberty, and reduce all the forces 
in the universe to the necessary transformation of matter 
and motion, adopt Comte’s view regarding the scope of 
Sociology, but develop it in accordance with the Evolu- 
tionary theory. According to Spencer, the science of 
Sociology consists in a series of generalisations of the 
observed facts of social life, which exhibits, lie says, a 
perfect analogy with the life of the individual. The structure 
of the moral body called Civil Society and the functions of 
its several parts are said to be quite similar to the organic 
structure and functions of individuals, including man ; and 
both exhibit alike their periods of growth, maturity and 
decay. Spencer and the writers of his school make the 
study of Sociology to consist mainly in the collection and 
co-ordination of facts to illustrate and prove tliis peculiar 

The Pantheistic philosophers of the Hegelian school of 
Evolution, who identify man with the Deity, and make all 
man’s thoughts and actions to belong to the one eternal 



Being evolving Himself towards a fuller and more perfect 
reality, regard organised civil society as the highest and 
most perfect manifestation of the Divinity. With them 
the scope of Sociology would be to expound and establish 
by abstract reasoning their theory of the nature of civil 
society, and to trace its gradual evolution towards the 
liigher and better order to which, they say, it is tending. 

With all these dreams and speculations we are not at 
present concerned. The theories of Positivism, Materialism 
and Pantheism, completely opposed as they are to common 
sense, and in flat contradiction of the practical experience 
of life, are referred to here merely to point out that 
Sociology or Social Science in the Catholic sense is something 
completely different from the so-called sciences which non- 
Christian philosophers designate by that name. 

Christian Sociology. — But not even Christian or so-called 
Christian philosophers are in full accord as to the object 
and scope of Sociology or Social Science. Many English, 
especially non-Catholic, writers apply the term to all studies 
that relate to the social improvement of man. They often 
use the term Sociology or Social Science merely as a general 
heading under which to treat such subjects as social reform, 
ethics, charity, relief-work, statistics, criminology, politics, 
etc. Besides, with many of these writers. Social Science, or 
the collection of subjects grouped under that name, would 
be purely empirical or inductive. Christian teaching on 
the nature, objects and structure of society obtains little 
attention : nor are the civic rights and duties of men treated 
as portion of an immutable moral law. 

The Catholic sociologist must reject such a method of 
treating his subject. He will, of course, utilise experience 
and induction in social studies. Conclusions drawn from 
statistics and history, showing the ascertained results upon 
human well-being of various political theories and economic 
methods, must form an important portion of the science. 
But Catholic Sociology rests, to a large extent, upon prin- 
ciples of the natural law, which are as uniform and un- 



changing as the essential nature of man. This will become 
clear from a consideration of the nature of society, which 
all admit to be, in some sense at least, the subject-matter of 

Meaning of Society. — Society is a moral unit made up of 
individuals associated together for a common purpose. A 
mere collection of persons, who, for instance, happen to be 
gathered in the same room, would not form a society. The 
individuals must have a common purpose, some object 
desirable for all and sought by all ; and some kind of in- 
tention or obligation of mutually assisting one another in 
its attainment. The idea of society requires, besides, that 
there be union of effort on the part of all towards securing 
for each and every individual of the body a due participation 
in the common object ; for, if each one seeks the object by 
his own individual efforts or for himself alone, there is no 
moral union. Again, the union of effort that is required 
must not be the result of accident or physical necessity or 
blind instinct. It must come from the deliberate intention 
on the part of the members to co-operate for the common 
end ; or, at least, there must be a moral obligation to do so. 
Thus, a hive of bees do not form a society in the strict sense 
which we are assuming here. For although they are united 
in co-operating for a common objective, the bees, being 
devoid of reason and acting from blind instinct, cannot be 
subject to moral obligation, nor can they consciously aim 
at a common purpose. Hence, only rational beings such 
as human persons can form a society. Finally, the notion 
of society includes the idea of permanence, though not 
necessarily of perpetuity. A number of women who agree 
to take a day’s outing together, or a dozen men, who form 
one side in a tug-of-war contest, and then separate, are 
not commonly called a society. 

Hence a society may be described as a permanent moral 
union of several persons for the purpose of attaining a common 
good by mutual co-operation. 



Governing Authority. — For the existence of such a union 
as is implied in the term Society, the element of social 
authority is essential. There must be some power present 
to direct the several members in their co-operation for the 
common good. For, considering the uncertain and fluc- 
tuating character of human opinion and human will, it is 
clear that the permanent co-operation of several persons 
for a special purpose is impossible without a directing and 
co-ordinating power to harmonise the discordant elements 
and direct the different forces towards a common end. 
This co-ordinating influence is nothing else than social 
authority, without which, therefore, human society is 

Necessary and Conventional Societies. — The definition of 
Society which we have given includes, not only such great 
societies as the State and the Church, but numberless other 
types of social union. Families, municipalities, religious 
orders, commercial companies, relief committees, sporting 
clubs, etc., all are societies. 

Now, of these different types, it will be observed that 
some owe their origin solely to the free choice of the in- 
dividuals that compose them. The founders of the society 
constitute it after what manner they think well and the 
members are free to enter the society or not as they please. 
Such societies are called free or conventional societies. 
Examples of this type are religious orders, charitable 
societies, trading companies, sporting clubs, etc. There 
are other societies which in no way owe their origin to 
their members’ choice. The Church, for instance, was 
founded by the direct intervention of God ; and its con- 
stitution cannot be altered or interfered with by any human 
authority. Besides the Church, there arc two — and only 
two — other types of human society whose existence and 
structure are not of mere human origin or liable to essential 
change. These are the Family and the State or Nation. 
The Family and the State are a necessary result of man’s 
nature. They come into existence in response to essential 



human tendencies and character, and to provide for needs 
which spring from the very nature of man. 

Hence there are three types of human association that 
form a class apart, namely, the Church, the Family, and 
the State or Nation. The existence and scope of these, the 
essential principles of their structure, the fundamental 
rights and duties of the members are determined by God’s 
law, and cannot be altered by human authority. Of these, 
the Church differs from the family and the nation in that 
the two latter are natural societies. Their immediate object 
has to do with man’s temporal interests ; and their existence 
and scope, as well as their fundamental structure, spring 
from the law of nature which was ordained by God in the 
very act of creating man. Hence the essential principles 
that govern their activities can be ascertained by the light 
of reason. The Church, on the other hand, is supernatural. 
Its object is to lead men to their supernatural destinjq 
which is direct union with God ; and its foundation and 
constitution depend upon God’s positive revelation to man. 

Perfect and Imperfect Societies. — Again, the Church and 
the nation differ from all other types of human association 
in that they are perfect societies. They — and only they — 
have within themselves all that is required for the complete 
and full realisation of the ends at which they aim. Neither 
can, within its own sphere, be validly subordinated to any 
human power outside itself ; while every other human 
society, even the family, is more or less dependent upon 
them. It is on this account that the Church and the State 
are called Perfect societies, while all the others, even the 
Family, arc Imperfect societies. 

Nature and Object of Social Science.— Bearing in mind 
these preliminary notions, w r e now come to consider the 
precise subject-matter and scope of Social Science. Under- 
stood literally and in its widest sense, Social Science would 
have to do with social organisation and social activities of 
every kind. Since, however, it is, like Ethics, a natural 



science, and refers primarily to man’s temporal good, the 
Church’s organisation and activities are outside its scope. 
Neither does it treat of free or conventional societies whether 
belonging to the natural or the supernatural order. Its 
scope is restricted by usage to the type of social union, 
which is natural and universal, namely, to the family and 
the State. Of these, the family, which, although of funda- 
mental importance in the life of the nation, is not a perfect 
society, is treated only cursorily, and, as it were, indirectly ; 
in so far, namely, as is required to indicate its essential 
functions, its position in the social organism, and the 
attitude which the State is bound to assume in its regard. 

Hence the proper subject-matter of Social Science is 
Civil Society, usually called the State or the Nation ; that 
type of society, namely, which is at the same time universal, 
natural and perfect. The ultimate object of the State is 
to secure the temporal happiness of its members, which, in 
practice, is the same thing as the fuller development of their 
physical, intellectual and moral powers. The proximate 
and immediate aim of the State’s activities is to ensure peace 
and prosperity for all ; for these are means essential to 
man’s temporal welfare, and can be secured only by the 
helps which the State affords. Social Science, taken in its 
widest sense, would include the speculative questions which 
concern the purpose, origin and constitution of the State, as 
well as those more practical questions which refer to social 
activity and the principles that govern the proper functions 
of the State. As the former class are usually treated at 
length in Ethics, Social Science, properly so-called, is con- 
fined mostly to the latter class. In other words, it is 
primarily a practical or normative science. Hence it may 
be defined as a practical science, directing social co-operation 
towards the more perfect attainment of the ends and aims of 
civil society A In other words, it is the science which directs 
the different members of the State in the fulfilment of their 
civic duties. 

1 Garriguet — Manuel de Sociologie, chap. i. 



From what has been said, it is plain that the science is 
partly analytical and partly inductive ; that is to say, the 
principles upon which its conclusions arc founded are of 
two kinds, namely (1) a priori principles, founded upon the 
nature and end of man, and the purposes and essential 
functions of human society ; and (2) a posteriori principles 
which are generalisations taken from such sources as history 
and statistics, referring to actual or historical social con- 

Its Relation with the Church. — Although Social Science 
is primarily a natural science, and its principles are ascertain- 
able by the light of reason, the student cannot ignore or 
dispense with the Church’s teaching. In the first place 
some of the principles of Social Science are illustrated and 
confirmed in the most striking manner by the truths of 
revelation. Thus the principles connected with the dignity 
and inalienable rights of the human person are confirmed 
in the strongest way by the mystery of the Redemption 
and man’s elevation to the supernatural state. Besides, 
experience proves that social principles, although ascertain- 
able by the light of reason, are in practice denied in large 
part or lost sight of wherever the Church’s authority is 

Furthermore, even when a social s 3 7 stem is organised on 
true principles, its proper working has always to meet 
obstacles rooted in men’s passions and ignorance and sin. 
These obstacles can be effectually overcome only by the 
forces of religion. Hence, if we are to look for a social 
system organised and worked in accordance with true 
principles, we shall find it only where the guidance of the 
Church prevails, and a strong sense of religion pervades 
the community. In other words, Christian civilisation is 
in practice the only type of civilisation in harmony with the 
principles of Social Science and tlie dictates of right reason. 

Its Relations with Kindred Sciences. — Social Science, 
though closely connected with Ethics, Political Science or 



Jurisprudence and Political Economy, still differs essentially 
from all of these. It differs from Ethics, for the principles 
of Ethics relate to human actions in their moral aspect, 
distinguishing namely, the good from the bad, and aims at 
leading men to their last end ; besides, Ethics has to do 
with all the deliberate actions of men. Social Science, on 
the other hand, relates only to acts that are external, and 
is concerned merely with the bearing of these acts upon the 
welfare of other members of the civil body. Social Science 
is subordinate to Ethics, in so far that its principles must 
be in conformity with ethical standards. In other words, 
it cannot, for the sake of a supposed social advantage, 
suggest a course of action that runs counter to sound moral 

Social Science also differs from Jurisprudence. The pur- 
pose of the latter is to direct the rulers of the State in 
framing laws and regulating their administration with a 
view to the peace and prosperity of the citizens. Social 
Science directs the citizens as well as the rulers, and includes 
in its scope principles and conclusions which need not, and 
should not, become the direct matter of civil law. 

Finally, Social Science differs from Political Economy. 
The latter refers only to the human activity that is em- 
ployed about the production, distribution and consumption 
of material goods. Social Science, having for its object the 
entire temporal welfare of the citizen, includes in its scope 
not only his material interests, but his intellectual and moral 
development as well. If, however, Political Economy be 
treated (as it should by the Christian economist) so as to 
take full account of the influence upon social well-being 
of the various methods of production, distribution and con- 
sumption, then Political Economy becomes practically 
identical with one important branch of Social Science. 

Its Origin as a Distinct Science. — Catholic Sociology as a 
separate subject of study is of comparatively recent growth. 
The a 'priori principles on which it is founded are, indeed, 
contained in the w orks of St. Thomas and the great Catholic 



authors of the 16th and 17th centuries. The proper appli- 
cation, however, of the general principles to many of our 
modern problems is not to be found in these writers, who 
did not foresee the peculiar conditions of present-day 
society. For in their time the modern social question had 
not yet arisen. Owing to the evils which have resulted 
from the disregard of civic duties in modern states (a legacy 
from the Protestant revolt against the Church in the 16th 
century), the whole question of social rights and duties has 
now assumed a position of paramount importance in almost 
every country. 

The poverty and oppression that weigh upon the masses 
of the people ; the immense wealth and excessive power of 
the great financiers, mostly non-Christian; the great trusts 
and monopolies ; the gambling on the Stock Exchange, 
productive of so much injustice and misery to the masses of 
the people ; the tyranny of the bureaucracy, masquerading 
under the cloak of popular authority ; the general unrest 
and widespread spirit of revolt ; the antagonism between 
the rich and poor ; the spread of irreligion among all classes 
and the general demoralization caused or promoted by the 
unchristian press and cinema ; the activities of the gambling 
agencies and numerous other influences more or less peculiar 
to modern society ; all these are prominent features of the 
social question, and a clear knowledge of Christian prin- 
ciples is essential for dealing effectually with them. This 
knowledge is what Social Science professes to offer. Hence, 
although the science, properly speaking, includes within 
its scope all kinds of social co-operation, it is usually con- 
fined in its practical treatment to the questions which bear 
more directly upon the social evils of our time. 

History of Modern Social Science. — The two great names 
associated with the foundation of the science of Catholic 
Sociology and the Catholic movement to which it has given 
birth are Bishop Von Ketteler 1 of Mainz (1811-1877) and 

1 Cf. Metlake — The Christian Social Reform of Bishop Ketteler (Phila- 
delphia, 1912). 



Father A. Taperelli (D’Azeglio), S.J. (1793-1862) of Rome. 
Ketteler’s contributions were greater on the practical side 
and Taperelli ’s on the doctrinal aspect. 

Ketteler may be justly regarded as the founder of the 
Catholic schools of Social reform. Pope Leo XIII pays 
tribute to him as his great predecessor in social teaching. 
Pope Pius XI on the other hand has more than once extolled 
the work and writings of Taperelli and refers in his recent 
Encyclical on Christian Education to Taperelli’s classical 
treatise on Natural Right 1 (which may be said to have laid 
the foundation of modern Social Science) as a “ work never 
sufficiently praised, and never recommended strongly enough 
to the university student.” Both these writers show how 
the teachings of St. Thomas and the principles of Catholic 
Philosophy contain the solution of the modern social 

The great Encyclicals of Leo XIII, promulgated in the 
last quarter of the 19th century (1878-1901), contain a 
statement of the main principles of Catholic social philosophy 
and are generally accepted as the ground-work of Social 
Science. The teaching which they contain has been con- 
firmed and in some particulars more fully developed in 
several Papal pronouncements of more recent date. The 
recent Encyclicals of our present Holy Father Pius XI, 
especially those on Christian Education, on Marriage , and 
on the Social Order, are of the first importance in this 
connection. 2 

Although several of the more important questions have 

1 Saggio Teoretico di Diritto Naturale Appogiato sul Fatto (Theoretical 
Essay on Natural Right from a Historical standpoint). See Catholic 
Encyclopedia for an account of Taperelli. 

2 In the following pages we quote the Papal Encyclicals (except where 
otherwise specified) from the English translation, entitled The Pope and 
the People, published by the English Catholic Truth Society (Edition, 1929). 
The page references are the pages of this book. A full collection of all 
Papal documents bearing on the present subject from those of Pius VII 
down to the present time (including the original text with French trans- 
lation, biographical notices, complete indexes, etc.), is published by La 
Bonne Presse, 5 Rue Bayard, Paris. The volumes referred to, which 
form a cheap and convenient series are entitled Actes de Leo XIII (7 vols.), 
Actes de Pius X (8 vols.). 



not yet been adequately studied, and although Catholic 
authors are not as yet in accord on all points of importance, 
the science has progressed steadily for the past thirty years 
owing to the labours of an ever-increasing number of 
Catholic writers, especially in Italy, France, Germany and 
Belgium. Writers in the English language, owing to their 
Protestant environment, have naturally been late in coming 
into the field. In recent years, however, the Catholic 
movement is making itself felt more and more, and excellent 
works on different phases of Catholic Social Science are 
constantly appearing in English . 1 

1 General Bibliography. — The publications of the Catholic Social Guild, 
Oxford, established 1909, are worthy of special mention. Of these pub- 
lications A Code of Social Principles (C. S. Guild, Oxford, 1929, price 6d.) 
is specially important. It is mainly a translation of the Code Social 
(“ Edition Spes,” 17 Rue Soufflot, Paris, 1927) prepared by the “ Union 
Internationale des Etudes Sociales ” (This union, founded 1920 at Malines 
by Cardinal Mercier, is made up of the leading European specialists in 
Social Science). The other C. S. G. publications include a small Handbook 
for Social Study (1923, price t/ — ), containing a useful bibliography. 

Antoine’s Cours d’Economie Sociale (cf. supra, p. 1) is probably the best 
all round treatise on Social Science that has so far appeared. Among 
others may be mentioned : A. Bclliot, O.F.M., Manuel de Sociologie 
Catholique (3rd edit., Paris, 1925) ; L. Garriquet — Manuel de Sociologie 
et d‘ Economic Sociale (Paris, 1924) ; V. Fallon, S.J. — Principes d'Economie 
Sociale (Bruges, 1923). This last book contains an excellent bibliography. 

Of the standard books on the subject the following may be named : — 
Taperelli, S.J. — Essai Theorique de Droit Naturel (the work referred to 
above), translated from the original Italian, 1857 (3rd edit., Paris, 1883), 
2 vols. ; also Cours Elemcntaire de Droit Naturel (Paris, 1864) ; Toniolo — 
Trattato de Economia Sociale (Florence, 1907) and L’Odierna Problema 
Sociologica (Florence, 1905) ; Devas — Political Economy, 3rd edit. (London, 
1920) ; Castelein — Droit Naturel (Paris, 1903). Finally, both the Catholic 
Encyclopedia and the Dictionnaire Apologetique de la Foi Catholique 
(Beauchesne, 11 Rue de Rennes, Paris, 1911) contain, scattered under 
different headings, practically all the available matter on the subject of 
Catholic Social Science. 

Of the English treatises on Catholic Philosophy, the following may be 
mentioned as specially useful for students of Social Science : — Rickaby, S.J. 
— Moral Philosophy (Longmans, London, 6/6) ; Coppens, S.J. — Moral 
Philosophy (Herder, London, 5/—) ; Cronin — Science of Ethics, 2 vols. 
(Dublin, 1917). 

Of the Latin works on Catholic Philosophy the following treat social 
questions with special fulness : — Meyer — Institutiones Juris Naturalis 
(Freiburg, 1900), pars. 2, scctio iii. Macksey — Argumenta Sociologica 
(Rome, 1918) ; Donat — Ethica Moralis (Innsbruck, 1921), sectio iii ; 
Costa- Rosetti — Philosophia Moralis (Innsbruck, 1886), par. 3, sectio v ; 
Hickey — Summa Philosophies Scholasticce (Gill, Dublin, 1923), vol. iii, 
PP- 447 - 517 - 



Division of the Subject-Matter. — Since modern Social 
Science has taken shape in reference to the social evils 
which now prevail more or less in every country inhabited 
by Europeans, it is necessary to set forth at the outset 
what these evils are, and how they have arisen. Hence, the 
First Part of our treati e will be devoted to a summary 
sketch of the history of social doctrines and social con- 
ditions in Europe from pre-Christian times to the present 
day. In criticising the different phases of doctrine and 
practice the Catholic teaching will be indirectly shown. In 
the Second Part we shall deal directly and explicitly with 
the fundamental principles of Catholic Social Science and 
their application to existing conditions. 




Bearing of European History on Social Science. — The 

purpose of civil society is to secure for the people the 
peaceful enjoyment of their rights ; and to promote morality, 
enlightenment, and sufficient material prosperity among all 
classes. Now it can be shown from European history that 
society as a whole failed to attain these objects before the 
advent of Christianity ; that they were best realized when 
the nations were under the influence and guidance of the 
Catholic Church, and that the masses of the people lost 
the civic advantages they had previously acquired when 
the State rejected the Church’s authority. These con- 
clusions, which go to show that Christian civilisation is the 
only civilisation suited to man’s nature and that Christian 
social principles are the only true ones, are thus summarised 
by Pope Leo XIII. 

“ Although the Catholic Church . . . has for her immediate 
and natural purpose the saving of souls and the securing of our 
happiness in heaven ; yet in regard to things temporal she is the 
source of benefits as manifold and great as if the chief end of her 
existence were to secure the prosperity of our earthly lives. 
Wherever the Church has set her foot, she has straightway 
changed the face of things and has attempered the moral tone 
of the people with a new civilisation and with virtues unknown 
before. All nations which have yielded to her sway have become 
eminent for their culture, their sense of justice, and the glory 
of their high deeds. ... It is clear that no better mode has 
been devised for building up and ruling the State than that 
which is the necessary growth of the teachings of the Gospel.” 1 
The same fact is emphasised by Pius X : 

“ The Church has been the first inspirer and promoter of 
civilisation . . . preserving and perfecting whatever was good 
in pagan civilisation. . . . The civilisation of the world is 
Christian civilisation. The more frankly Christian it is so much 
is it the more true, more lasting and more productive of precious 
fruit ; the more it withdraws from the Christian ideal so much 
the feebler is it to the great detriment of society.” 2 

1 Immortale Dei (1885), pp. 45, 46. 
a II Fermo Proposito (June, 1905), p. 190. 




It is not, of course, claimed that there is an exact and 
uniform correlation between the Catholic faith of the people 
and their social welfare. It has been truly said that “ not 
everything on earth went wrong before the Incarnation, 
nor has everything gone right since.” Still truer is it that 
a Christian regime cannot and in practice does not exclude 
all defects and abuses ; nor does a non-Christian regime 
necessarily imply the absence of all things that are praise- 
worthy and desirable. Social welfare is not the aim, but 
only an ordinary and natural consequence, of true religion ; 
and this consequence may be prevented from becoming 
actual through a thousand intervening causes. It is only 
when one considers the whole history of European civilisation 
that one is persuaded that for all the most precious elements 
of that civilisation we are indebted to the Catholic 
Church . 1 

Division of the Subject. — To deal adequately with so vast 
a theme is beyond our scope. It will be sufficient for our 
purpose to touch only on the main headings. We shall 
therefore first indicate briefly the principal features of 
social life in Europe 2 during each of the following periods : 

(a) The Early Roman Empire, viz., the first three cen- 
turies A.D., when the European nations of the Empire 
had attained their highest development in non-Christian 
civilisation ; and before the influence of Christianity was 
yet much felt in public life. (Chap. I.) 

(b) The beginning of the Fifth Century A.D., when 
Christian principles and Christian teaching had largely 
permeated the laws and institutions as well as the social 
life of the Roman Empire ; and previous to the political 
and social upheaval caused by the Teutonic invasions. 
(Chap. II.) 

(c) The Early Middle Ages, viz., the period from the 
sixth to the end of the eleventh century, when the Church 
had to undertake afresh the work of moulding the new 

1 Letters on Social History (Catholic Social Guild, Oxford, 1920), pp. 15, 16. 

2 We confine ourselves mainly to European history, as this exemplifies 
best the effects of the Church’s influence. What we have to say, however, 
applies mutatis mutandis to the inhabitants of North and South America 
and of Australasia, who are predominantly European in race, and whose 
civilisation is wholly European. The history of the Philippine Islands 
also furnishes an excellent example of the elevating effects of Christianity. 



barbarian nations to the principles and practice of Christian 
civilisation. (Chap. III.) 

(d) The period lying between the twelfth and the fifteenth 
centuries, which is the golden age of Christian domination 
in Europe. As this period exemplifies Christian ideals in 
social life better than any other period of European history, 
we shall treat it at greater length. (Chaps. IV— VII.) 

Next, after dealing with the Protestant Revolt of the 
16th century and the changes in social life which resulted 
directly from it (Chap. VIII), we shall treat of the modern 
social movements which have sprung indirect^ from the 
same source, namely. Liberalism, unchristian Capitalism, 
Socialism and Freemasonry. (Chaps. IX-XIII.) 

Finally, after outlining the main social problems (com- 
monly called “ The Social Question ”) to which these move- 
ments have given rise, we shall conclude our survey with 
a brief sketch of the modern Catholic Social Movement. 
(Chaps. XIV, XV.) 



The Roman Empire. — In the first centuries of the Christian 
era, the empire of Rome included most of the known world. 
It extended from the Euphrates to the Atlantic, from 
Britain to Northern Africa, and from the Rhine and Danube 
to the Red Sea. Over all that vast area the institutions, 
customs, and, at least in the Western half of the Empire, 
even the language of Rome prevailed. The social customs 
and the moral views of the people, which were practically 
the same over the whole Empire, were a fusion of Grecian 
civilisation and ideals with those of the earlier Roman 

Pagan Social Principles. — From the Christian and Pagan 
writings of the period, scholars are quite familiar with the 
main features of social life in the Early Roman Empire. 
Men centred their whole happiness in selfish gratification and 
mostly in sensual pleasure. Their moral code, which was 
founded upon the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle, rested 
upon the same worship of self. Its principles included con- 
tempt for the weak and hatred for one’s enemies. Human 
dignity and personality as such were not recognised. It 
was formally admitted that the weaker members of society, 
such as women and slaves, were intended by nature for the 
utility of the strong, just as in the Christian law it is a 
principle that the lower animals are ordained for the benefit 
of man. 2 

1 CI. Balmes — European Civilisation ; Chateaubriand — Genie du 
Christianisme (tom. iii, liv. iii— iv) ; Ozanam — La Civilisation an Cinquieme 
Slide (tom. i and ii) ; Schmidt — Social Results of Early Christianity 
(London, 1907) ; Benevot — Pagan and Christian Rule (London, 1924) ; 
Devas — Studies in Family Life ; and Key to the World’s Progress ; Allies — 
Formation of Christendom (Part I) ; Catholic Encyclopedia, art. “ Charity ” ; 
Letters on Social History ; Albers — Manuel de I’Histoire Ecclesiastique , 
“ Introduction ” ; Mourret — Histoire de I’Eglise (vol. i), 

* The high ideals ol natural virtue which one finds in many pagan 
writers, such as Plato, Cicero, Virgil, Horace, Seneca and others ; the 
praises of marital fidelity, patriotism, friendship, kindness, even of 
virginity, had little relation to actual life, at least in the period referred 
to here, whatever may be said of the earlier periods when the foundations 
of Rome’s greatness were laid. 



These principles had their logical effect in determining 
the functions and authority of the State, and the social 
position of women, children, slaves, and the poor. 

The State, which in practice meant only the governing 
classes and included hut a small fraction of the actual 
population, was regarded as an omnipotent power against 
which no personal or family rights were allowed to prevail. 
This absolute power of the State assumed concrete ex- 
pression in the deification of the Emperor, who by law was 
regarded as a god. The Emperor himself was above all 
law and his sole will unfettered by any consideration of 
right and wrong or by any fundamental principle of the 
constitution, had in itself the force of law. 

The Working Class. — The working class in the Roman 
Empire were slaves. In fact all the Pagan civilisations of 
Europe before the advent of Christianity reposed on slavery. 
The Roman slaves, who formed more than half the entire 
population, were practically deprived in law of all human 
rights and belonged, like chattels or cattle, to their masters. 
The slaves worldng in the fields usually had chains on their 
feet. Their food consisted of bread, water and salt. At 
night they were kept in damp underground cells with little 
or no ventilation. The old or weak were commonly allowed 
to perish like worthless cattle. If it occurred that a Roman 
citizen was killed in his own home, all the slaves were, or 
by a provision of the law might be, executed without enquiry 
or trial. 

The Poor and the Weak. — The weaker members of society, 
such as women and children, were not allowed the enjoy- 
ment of their natural rights as human persons ; for human 
dignity as such was not recognised. “ Degraded woman,” 
writes Balmes, “ was distinguished by the corruption of 
her morals, and debased by the tyranny of man ; infants 
were abandoned ; the sick and the aged were neglected.” 1 

The lot of the millions of citizens that lived in abject 
poverty in all the cities of the Empire was little better than 
that of slaves. Rome alone had hundreds of thousands 
of hungry poor, who had come to look upon gifts of money 
and doles of bread from the State as their birth -right. 

1 Op. cit., chap, xvi, p. C6. 



Prevalence of Cruelty and Immorality. — Cicero quotes a 
contemporary as stating (although apparently with exag- 
geration) that there were only 2,000 owners of property in 
the city of Rome in his time, 1 whereas the total population 
is computed to have been more than 1 ,200,000. The great 
majority of the rest were slaves or proletarians. 2 Poverty 
was the one unpardonable sin in the eyes of the Roman 
who recognised nothing excellent in the human person apart 
from his goods or his power. Charity, love of the poor, 
even hospitality in the Christian sense and as we understand 
these virtues, did not exist. 3 Immorality of the grossest 
type was universal in both sexes and among all classes ; 
and cruelty and oppression reached a degree that is now 
scarcely conceivable. 

We read of 400 slaves being put to death in one house 
in pursuance of the inhuman law that when a citizen was 
killed in his own house all the slaves were executed ; of a 
hundred free citizens of the poorer classes, many of them 
married and fathers of families, being mutilated in order 
to provide a train of eunuchs for a daughter of a noble 
about to marry ; of 3,000 Jews given to wild beasts to 
devour at a celebration of a feast ; of five, six or ten thousand 
people of all ranks and both sexes slaughtered ou a mere 
suspicion of the Emperor ; of eighteen thousand gladiators 
compelled to slaughter one another as a public spectacle 
for the amusement of the populace ; of hideous scenes of 
sexual immorality enacted at the banquets of the nobles, 
which were further varied by the spectacle of gladiators 
massacring each other for the amusement of the revellers. 4 
In a word, the horrors of life in the pre-Christian Roman 
Empire are inconceivable even in the neo-pagan immoral 
world of to-day. 

1 Ve Officiis, ii. 21. 

a There was doubtless a small intermediate class of freemen such as 
shopkeepers, etc., who would not be classed as proletarians. But these 
did not form a notable element in Roman society. 

a Cf. Lecky, History of European Morals, vol. i, pp. 40 ff, for many 
citations of pagan writers in commendation of universal brotherhood. 
These sentiments of the philosophers, however, had little or no relation 
to real life. 

4 For references and further examples, cf. Schmidt, op. cit., book i, 
chap, iii ; also Chateaubriand, loc. cit., and Ozanam, loc. cit. 



Freedom of the Church. — After nearly three centuries of 
persecution the Church was at last allowed to emerge from 
the Catacombs. By the Edict of Milan, which was pro- 
mulgated in 313 AT), over the names of the joint Emperors, 
Constantine and Licinius, and the several supplementary 
edicts issued by Constantine himself when he became sole 
master of the Roman world, Christianity, which had by 
that time permeated every class of Roman society, got 
legal recognition and even official encouragement within 
the Empire. Nearly another century of varying vicissitudes 
had to elapse before it was established under Theodosius 
the Great (d. 395) as the religion of the State. 

Society only Partially Christianised. — A considerable 
portion of the people were still pagan ; and even among 
large sections of the Christians many pagan customs and 
unchristian principles rooted in an unbroken tradition of 
a thousand years, continued to retain their hold. Even 
Roman law had not yet fully put off its Pagan character- 
istics. Still both laws and customs had already undergone 
a profound change in the early half of the 5th century : 
and the Theodosian Code which was compiled about 430 AT), 
shows that Christian principles had then gained a definite 
mastery in the Roman world. 

Supremacy of the Divine Law. — To begin with, the absolute 
supremacy of the State and the unchecked despotism of 
its ruler were no longer acknowledged even in civil law. 
By the fundamental principles of Christian teaching there 
is a higher law against which no human authority can 
prevail. The eternal law of God binds emperor, citizen 
and slave with the same force. This principle was now 
definitely recognised. Hence even slaves were now allowed 
rights of conscience with which slavery in the old sense 
was incompatible. 

1 References as for preceding chapter. 




Rights Attaching to Human Personality. — Again, in 
opposition to the teaching of the Graeco-Roman philosophy 
and the spirit of the old Roman law', the essential dignity 
and inalienable rights of the human person no matter how 
poor or weak were now at least partially recognised. 
According to Christian teaching, all, w’hether slaves or 
Romans, women or men, infants or adults, being children 
of the same Father, predestined to the same eternal end, 
and redeemed by the same Saviour, have by their nature 
indefeasible rights and inalienable responsibilities which no 
human law can make void. For under the Christian law 
there is, as St. Paul writes : neither Jew nor Greek ; there is 
neither bond nor free ; there is neither male nor female. For 
you are all one in Christ A 

In enforcing this principle not only was the Church con- 
fronted with prejudices rooted in the Pagan tradition; but 
the whole framew'ork of the social organism, wdiich was 
fashioned on a Pagan philosophy, had to be recast. Such a 
reform was necessarily slow. Still even the century after 
the freedom of the Church was first declared witnessed 
substantial progress. Thus in the case of women, minors, 
slaves, prisoners and the poor, the Church insisted from 
the very beginning that their essential rights be fully re- 
cognised, and she exerted her whole influence that all their 
other natural rights be gradually conceded. 

Reforms in Roman Law.- — The right of life and death 
which, by the old Roman law, the master had over his 
slaves, and the father over his children, is withdrawn in 
the Theodosian Code. Children are allowed emancipation 
from the parents’ control when they reach a certain age. 
Girls over eighteen years of age can marry of their own 
free choice : and are allowed also the free disposal of their 
property. Slaves are allowed rights and facilities to acquire 
property ; and many provisions are made protecting them 
against the injustice of tyrannical masters. 

Many evidences also now appear of the more humane 
attitude of Roman law towards the poor and weak. Thus 
the bishops are accorded extensive powers of arbitration 
in disputes, and in several other ways are enabled to protect 

1 Gal. iii. 2S. 



the poor against oppression. When the parties to a dispute 
agreed to choose the Bishop as arbitrator, the civil judge 
was bound by law to enforce his decision. The Bishop 
also visited the prisons to see that the prisoners were 
properly treated. The provincial governors took their oath 
of office at the Bishop’s hands, and after their period of 
office gave an account of their administration before him. 
Churches, and later on, even houses in the vicinity of the 
Church, were accorded rights of asylum where those accused 
of crime might take refuge and he thus safeguarded against 
precipitate punishment or personal vengeance. Hospitals 
endowed from public funds were established for the poor ; 
and special houses of refuge were opened for orphans, 
widows, and poor travellers. 1 

The inhuman custom of gladiatorial combats, in which 
hundreds and thousands of men slaughtered one another 
in the arena for the amusement of the people, was forbidden 
by Constantine about 313 A.D., hut owing to the opposition 
which this measure aroused it was not enforced till 404 A.D. 
The abolition of gladiatorial combats w r as brought about 
by the heroic martyrdom of the monk Telemachus, who 
rushed into the arena to separate the combatants and was 
immediately stoned to death by the populace. Owing to the 
profound impression created by this incident, the Emperor 
Honorious was enabled to suppress finally these inhuman 
exhibitions in Rome. 

The Example set by the Christians. — Among the Christians 
themselves, slaves and the poor were regarded, in contrast 
with the old pagan ideals, as the equals of the rich in human 
dignity and personal responsibility. They were treated 
with special kindness by the Church ; while in the Christian 
homes, all the members of the family, including the slaves, 
were united by close ties of charity and piety. 

The principles regulating men’s duties towards one another 
form another feature of Christian teaching which clashed 
with the social ideals of pagan Rome. In the latter, self- 
interest and self-gratification were recognised as the funda- 
mental consideration, while the Christian ideal is summed 
up in the words of Christ : Thou shall love thy neighbour 

1 Schmidt, op. cit. ; Benevot, op. cit. 73-91. 



as thyself ; 1 and again: A new commandment I give unto 
you that you love one another as J have loved you A The 
practice of justice and charity which this law includes 
marked the mutual relations of the early Christians ; and 
extended itself even to those outside the Christian fold. 
Such an example exerted an immense influence in the whole 
social life of Rome and made itself felt in almost every 
detail of life. 

The New Concept of Ownership. — Finally, one of the most 
important and revolutionary of the new principles in- 
troduced by Christianity was the Christian concept of 
private ownership. Thi ; was directly opposed to the non- 
Christian idea. According to Christian teaching the human 
owner of material goods is merely a steward in the service 
of the Supreme Owner Who is God. Hence, the wealthy 
proprietor is bound by the law of Christ (and in those days 
he fully recognised his obligations) to give for the relief of 
the needs of others what remained over after his own 
reasonable needs were satisfied. He was taught, too, that 
his own wants were to be interpreted rather strictly, ex- 
cluding luxuries and even unnecessary comfort and con- 
venience . 3 

During the early centimes of Christianity, preachers and 
writers were accustomed to emphasise these obligations 
very strongly. They insisted a good deal upon the duties 
and limitations of ownership and upon the fundamental 
right of all to their due measure of access to the material 
goods of the world. Although there is no proof that com- 
munism prevailed in the early Church, or that the teachings 
of any of the early Fathers were opposed to the institution 
of private property, the mere fact that many non-Catholic 
waiters can assert with a certain show of plausibility that 
such was the case is sufficient to prove how strongly 
Christian moralists and preachers insisted upon the limita- 
tions and responsibilities of ownership. 

Among the Christians themselves the ideals of the Gospel 
were very largely realised ; and as the Christians formed 
in the fifth century the vast majority of the population, 
their influence profoundly affected the whole tone of society. 

1 Matlh. xxii. 39. 2 2 John xiii. 34. 

3 Cl. Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. iii, art. “ Charity,” pp. 594, 595. 



Marriage. Among the Christians the marriage tie was 
then, as now, inviolable and perpetual ; and the marital 
obligations of husband and wife mutual. Even in Roman 
law, although divorce and concubinage still continued to 
obtain recognition, both were placed under strict limitations. 
Divorce was made very difficult . The law discouraged it ; 
and civil equality was established between husband and 
wife in all their essential marriage obligations. 

The Social Status of Women. — The pagan idea of the 
essential inferiority of women was reprobated and a com- 
pletely new ideal of womanhood was upheld. The Christian 
matron is a type quite unknown to the pre-Christian Romans. 
She is the close friend and companion of her husband to 
whom she is bound by ties which death alone can sever. 
She is the educator of the children and the mistress of the 
home in which her position is secure. The important role 
assumed by the Christian matron in ah works of charity 
and benevolence was also a new phenomenon. 

Finally, the special place set apart in the Christian law 
for virgins consecrated to God contributed to give to the 
Christian woman a dignity and a standing that were in 
striking contrast with pre-Christian ideas. So completely 
indeed had the influence of Christianity revolutionised the 
attitude of the Romans towards their women that we find 
Pulcheria, sister of Theodosius II, acting as her brother’s 
regent and guardian and succeeding him as Empress after 
his death (450 A.D.). 1 

The Roman Slaves . 3 — The abolition of slavery was perhaps 
the greatest and most decisive triumph of Christianity in 
the social life of the people. That the disappearance of 
slavery among the European nations was a result of Christian 
principles is recognised by all historians. “ As the morning 
rays of Christianity,” writes Dr. Sigerson, “fell upon the 
nations, they first dispelled the darker clouds of slavery 
and then, as the light prevailed, bondage passed away. 
This happened more or less rapidly in different localities 

1 Cf. Ozanam, op. cit., tom. ii (pp. 86—89). 

2 Cf. Paul Allard — Les Esclaves Chretienncs ; Diet. Apologetique , art. 
" Esclavage " ; Gath. Encyclopedia, art. “ Slavery ” ; Letters on Social 
History , pp. 27-39. 



as mountains may be seen illuminated with sunshine while 
the valleys at their feet are still in the shade.” 1 

The slave question w'as tlie most troublesome and thorny 
of all the difficulties that the Church had to deal with. 
To liberate the slaves at once, even if it were possible, 
would mean a social upheaval the result of which no one 
could foresee ; and would have been fatal even to the 
interests of the slaves themselves. The numbers of slaves 
were immense, and the institution of slavery was deeply 
rooted in the manners, the ideas, and the whole social life 
of the people. Hence the Church had to proceed slowly 
and cautiously. 

The Church’s Mode of Procedure. — “ Christianity,” writes 
Lecky, “ broke down the contempt with which the master 
regarded his slaves and planted among the slaves themselves 
a principle of moral regeneration which expanded in no 
other sphere with equal perfection. Its action in procuring 
the freedom of slaves was unceasing.” 2 The Church repro- 
bated the false idea that manual work is degrading. She 
insisted on the duty and the necessity of labour for all, and on 
the well-grounded self-respect wiiich the practice of labour 
gives. She preached the equality of all in natural dignity, 
in personal responsibility, in the participation of heavenly 
graces and in the predestination to eternal happiness. 
While preaching to the slaves the duty of obedience to the 
master’s just commands (because the master’s authority 
at the time was necessary for the common good and con- 
sequently sanctioned by the Divine will) she also insisted 
strongly on the duties of masters towards their slaves ; 
and had her preaching sanctioned by canonical enactments 
and very severe penalties . 3 

Outside of what was essential for the needs of existing 
society, the Church acknowledged no distinction between 
slave and freeman. All had the same sacraments. The 
marriage of slaves among themselves had the same sanction 
as that of the free. Clerics of servile origin were numerous ; 
and so levelling was the Cliristian principle of personal 

1 Sigerson — hand Tenure and hand Classes of Ireland (Longmans, 
London, 1871), p. 228. 

2 History of European Morals, vol. ii, p. 69 (edit. 1913). 

3 CL Balmes, op. cit. t chaps, xv-xviii. 



equality that the Chair of Peter was sometimes filled by 
men born of slaves, such as Pius in the second century 
and Callistus in the third. In the Christian cemeteries 
there is no distinction between the tombs of slaves and 
those of the free. 

Above all, the Church prepared the way for the eventual 
abolition of slavery. The liberation of slaves was endowed 
with special ecclesiastical favour. It was usual to perform 
the ceremony of manumission in the Church ; and the Bishop 
was accorded by civil law special powers to facilitate it. 
The Church also took liberated slaves under her special 
protection and strictly forbade that they should be in any 
way again reduced to servitude. Under the influence of 
the Church, the State also made many other enactments to 
facilitate the manumission of slaves. The movement was 
further supported by the example of Christian masters who 
frequently set free their whole households of slaves. Besides 
all this the general attitude of the Christians towards their 
slaves and towards the poor set an example which pro- 
foundly affected the whole tone of Roman Society. 

Results of the Church’s Influence. — If the Roman State 
had been allowed to develop on the new lines thus marked 
out, the sixth century A.D. would probably have seen the 
complete liberation of the slaves, and the establishment of 
a fully developed Christian social regime. 

The downfall of the Western Empire checked the develop- 
ment of Christian civilisation in Western Europe, although 
in the Eastern Empire the movement still continued. 
Enough, however, was already done even in the West to 
permeate the fabric of Roman law with Christian principles. 
This law became later on the groundwork of the legal 
systems of the European kingdoms which grew out of the 
Teutonic invasions that now swept over Europe. 



Art. 1 — General Historical Survey (5th to 11 th centuries) 

The Teutonic Invasions.- — The period of the Early Middle 
Ages may be said to extend from about the middle of the 
5th century to the Pontificate of Pope Gregory VII (d. 1085). 
The reign of the Emperor Ilononous (395-423) had wit- 
nessed the beginning of the last struggles of the Roman 
Empire in Western Europe. Erom across the Danube the 
Goths over-ran Italy, Gaul and Spain. The Saxons, Jutes 
and Angles crossing the North Sea from the regions south 
of Denmark, swarmed into Britain. The Alemanni, 
Franks, Burgundians, and later on the Lombards, advanced 
from beyond the Rhine ; while from the plains of the 
Vistula, the fierce Vandals and the savage race of the Huns 
poured over Western and Southern Europe. Before the 
close of the 5th century, the Western Empire was finally 
dissolved. The Goths were ruling in Spain and the Vandals 
in Africa. The Franks had obtained mastery in Gaul and 
along the basin of the Rhine. Soon after, the Lombards 
definitely established their power in Northern Italy, and 
the Anglo-Saxons in Britain. 

Many of these nations, including the Franks, Burgundians 
and Anglo-Saxons, were pagan. The Vandals, Lombards, 
Alemanni and Goths were Christian only in name. They 
professed Arianism, a debased form of Christianity, in which 
the mysteries of the Holy Trinity and the Incarnation of 
the Son of God were rejected. 

Ireland and the Barbarians.- — Meanwhile, during the 
second half of the 5th century, the Irish people, who had 

1 Besides the references already given, cf. Mourret — Histoire G&niralt 
de VEglise, vols. ii and iii ; Allies — Formation of Christendom ; Albers — 
Histoire de VEglise, tom. i, pp. 244 S ; Kenelm Digby — Mores Catholici ; 
Letters on Social History, pp. 44, 45 ; Brown- — The Achievement of the 
Middle Ages (Sands & Co., London, 1925), pp. 9-45. 




remained outside the Roman Empire, and were not touched 
by the barbarian invasions, had been converted to 
Christianity ; and in a short time the Christian spirit had 
permeated the laws and social customs of the nation. 
During the three centuries that ensued, while confusion 
and turmoil reigned on the continent, Ireland became the 
principal depository in Europe of the Christian tradition. 
From Ireland most of the missionaries came that laboured 
during the 6th and 7th centuries for the conversion of the 
barbarian conquerors of Western Europe, both pagan and 
Arian, to Christianity. 1 

Conversion of the Barbarians. — By the end of the 8th 
century, the nations west of the Danube and Rhine, in- 
cluding Britain ; and two hundred years later, practically 
all Europe with the exception of the Moors in the southern 
half of Spain, had accepted the Christian faith. But the 
work of bringing the law's and social life of the converted 
nations into harmony with Christian principles was a more 
tedious and difficult task ; and much of the pagan spirit 
and outlook continued to live on among them for centuries 
after they had nominally embraced Christianity. 

Eighth and two following Centuries. — The work of the 
Church was rendered more difficult by the disturbed state 
of Europe, and especially by the rise of the Mohammedan 
power and the invasions of the Norsemen, Hungarians and 
Slavs. In the early half of the 8th century, the Moham- 
medan Moors established their power in Spain and con- 
tinued to push their way into France till the wave of invasion 
was finally broken by Charles Martel, on the field of Tours 
(A.D. 732). 

Soon after, the pagan Norsemen and Danes began their 
wars of conquest in the North. These wars continued for 

1 More than two hundred and fifty saints of Irish birth and very many 
others who were educated in Ireland, all belonging to these centuries, are 
still venerated as local patrons, in Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, 
Britain and Italy. These were only the leaders of the crowds of Irish 
missionaries that evangelised these countries. Cf. B. Fitzpatrick — 
Ireland and the Foundation of Europe (New York, 1927), and Ireland and 
the Making of Britain (London, 1927) ; Lynch — Cambrensis Eversus, vol. ii, 
pp. 641-653 ; White — Apologia Pro Hibernia, pp. 14-45 '• Gougaud — Les 
Chritiintis Celliques (Le Cofire, Paris, 1911), chap, v ; and Gaelic Pioneers 
of Christianity (Dublin, 1923). 



more than two centuries and extended even to Italy and 
Sicily. The Norsemen broke up the civil and ecclesiastical 
organisation in Northern France, Belgium, Ireland and 
England, before they were themselves won over to 
Christianity in the 11th century. 

Meanwhile, from the East the Slavs, still half pagan, 
carried on a fierce war against the Christian states on their 
borders ; while the fierce race of the Magyars or Hungarians 
began in the 8th century their terrible incursions into 
central Germany and Northern Italy. All these wars 
impeded the civilising influence of Christianity and delayed 
for more than two centuries the formation of Christendom. 

Art. 2 — Social Regeneration of the Barbarians 

Influence of Ecclesiastics. — During the whole of this 
period the Catholic Church was the one power in Europe 
that stood for human right and liberty. As the nations 
became Christian, the Pope gradually gained recognition 
as the delegate of God who is the source of all legitimate 
authority. Hence he became the official adviser and ad- 
monitor of Christian rulers, the mediator between the 
rulers and the people and the arbiter in international affairs. 
The local bishops and abbots, and even individual priests, 
exercised, each in his own limited sphere, an influence 
similar to that which the Popes possessed in Christendom 
as a whole. For in those days intellectual training, at least 
outside of the Greek Empire and of Ireland, was practically 
confined to the clergy and the monks. 1 Thus it was from 
the Church’s representatives — the Pope, the Bishops and 
the Clergy — that the serf, the slave, the poor and the weak 
sought and obtained protection against wrong. 

And of Christian Teaching. — Historians generally recog- 
nise that it was as a result of Christian teaching and the 
Church’s influence that the barbarian nations were gradually 
moulded to that sense of justice, charity and true liberty, 
which formed the basis of mediaeval civilisation. Leo XIII 
strongly emphasises this fact : 

“ Christian Europe has subdued barbarous nations, and 
changed them from a savage to a civilised condition ; from 

1 Ci, Albeis, op. cit., vol. i, pp. 314-316. 



superstition to true worship. It victoriously rolled back the 
tide of Mahommedan conquest ; retained the headship of civil- 
isation ; stood forth in the front rank as the leader and teacher 
of all in every branch of national culture ; bestowed on the world 
the gift of true and many-sided liberty, and most wisely founded 
very numerous institutions for the solace of human suffering. . . . 
Whatever in the State is of chief avail for the common welfare : 
whatever has been usefully established to curb the licence of 
rulers, who are opposed to the true interests of the people, or 
to keep in check the leading authorities from unwarranted inter- 
ference in municipal or family affairs ; whatever tends to uphold 
the honour, manhood and equal rights of individual citizens — 
of all these things, as the monuments of past ages bear witness, 
the Catholic Church has always been the originator, the promoter, 
or the guardian.” 1 

It was the Church that checked the tyranny and absolutism 
of the ruler while teaching the subjects the duty of sub- 
mission and obedience to lawful authority, thus pointing 
out to all the path leading to social happiness and peace. 
It was from the Church’s teaching and admonitions that 
the wealthy and powerful baron learned his duties of justice 
and charity towards his vassals and serfs, while the latter 
from the same teaching became conscious of their dignity 
as children of God and realised the indefeasible rights they 
had, no less than the prince or the feudal baron, to a fair 
share even of temporal well-being . 2 

Formation of a Christian Civilisation. — All the complicated 
organisation which was gradually built up all over Europe 
in the interests of the poor, the aged, the infirm and the 
young — hospitals, asylums, orphanages, houses of refuge, 
etc. — was the work of the Church alone. “ The Church,” 
writes Lecky, “ which seemed so haughty and overbearing 
in its dealings with kings and princes and nobles, never 
failed to listen to the poor and the oppressed ; and for 
many centuries their protection was the foremost of all 
the objects of her policy .” 3 Again, it was the Church that 

1 Immortale Dei, 1855, pp. 55, 56 and 63. 

2 Cf. Ryan and Millar — State and Church, chap, v, for a valuable sketch 
of the process by which the Church introduced the ideas of law, of 
Christian constitutional government and of democratic freedom among 
the European nations. 

3 Rationalism in Europe, vol. ii, chap. 17. 




purified, the home and restored and safeguarded the dignity 
of the woman so closely identified with the purity and 
happiness of domestic life. 

Restoration of the Arts and Sciences. — Jt was by Church- 
men that the literary treasures of ancient Greece and Rome 
were preserved, and science and letters propagated among 
the people. The mechanical arts, too, such as masonry, 
carpentry, iron-work, etc., as well as agriculture, forestry, 
fishery, which are so essential for material prosperity, were 
restored throughout Europe principally by means of the 
Church. Even for the foundation of the great public 
utilities — schools, universities, banks, insurance companies, 
roads, bridges, etc. which had practically disappeared over 
most of Europe as a result of the barbarian invasions, we 
are indebted to activities of the Church. 

Special Christian Institutions and Achievements. — Among 
the Christian institutions and practices specially beneficial 
were the practice of Sacramental Confession, the discipline 
of the Penitential Canons, 1 the enforcing of the unity and 
perpetuity of the marriage contract, the institution of the 
Peace of God, and the prohibition of usury. It is outside 
our scope to treat these matters in detail. A few points, 
however, which refer directly to social well-being require 
special notice. These concern monasticism, the abolition 
of slavery and the charity of the Church. The question of 
usury will be dealt with later. 

Art. 3 — Monasticism 2 

Its Great Importance.- — In the history of Monasticism 
during this period will be found perhaps the most striking 

1 According to the Penitential Canons, the penitent had to submit to 
long periods of penitential works, sometimes extending over several years, 
in expiation of the more serious social crimes, such as homicide, rape, 
adultery, etc. This universal practice of voluntary penance served to 
produce gradually in the minds of all a horror of crime which no merely 
civil sanction could bring about. The general use of Sacramental Con- 
fession in Western Europe, as well as the discipline of the Penitential 
Canons, were largely due to the influence of the Irish missionaries. The 
Irish Penitentiary Canons became prevalent in Europe before the middle 
of the eight century. Cf. Gougaud, Chretientes Critiques, chap, viii, 
sec. 4, pp. 267 ft ; also Watkin’s History of Penance (London, 1920), vol. ii, 
part ii, “ The Keltic System.” 

2 Cf . Montalembert — Monks of the Church ; Albers, op. cit., tome i, 
pp. 380—401. Mourret, op. cit., vol. hi. 



illustration of the Church’s bcneficient influence. It was 
largely through the medium of her monastic institutions 
that the Church evangelised the Teutonic nations and 
fashioned their social life to Christian ideals. From the 
Gth century onward the Benedictine and Irish monks spread 
over every country of Western Europe. In every district, 
on mountain and valley, near the sea-shore, and in inland 
regions their monasteries were to be seen. These formed 
the centres of the organised religion of the neighbourhood. 
It was the monasteries and convents of nuns that relieved 
the poor, reared the orphans, cared for the sick, afforded 
shelter to the traveller, and were havens of refuge for all 
who were weighed down by spiritual or corporal suffering . 1 

Its Influence on Social Customs. — The example of self- 
abnegation in the monk’s life, the object lesson in human 
equality which the democratic spirit of their institute 
afforded, the ideals of co-operation embodied in their 
corporate organisation, their charity, their attitude towards 
their dependents and the poor, all exercised a profound 
influence on social customs. 

The example of the monks gave a prestige to manual 
labour which, among the barbarians, as in pagan Greece 
and Rome, was previously esteemed unworthy of a freeman. 
Every Benedictine and Columbian monk, including the 
abbot, who in the people’s eyes had the status of a feudal 
lord, was bound by rule to spend many hours a day in 
manual labour in the fields or in his workshop. As a result 
of the monk’s example a lay artisan class of freemen was 
gradually formed, preparing the way for the subsequent 
city guild organisations. 

On Agriculture, the Handicrafts and Art. — It was the 

monks, too, who introduced into Europe the art of agri- 
culture and brought the land back again to cultivation . 2 

1 " In the relief of the indigent it may on the whole be asserted that the 
monks did not fall short of tlicir profession ” (Hallam, Middle Ages, 
vol. iii, chap, ix, p. 302). This is the unwilling testimony of a prejudiced 
and hostile writef . 

2 Even such Protestant historians as Guizot and Hallam. both strongly 
prejudiced against the Church, assert tins. Cf. Hallam, loc. cit., p. 436 ; 
Guizot, Histoirc de la Civilisation, ii, p. 75. 



In the last centuries of the Roman Empire agriculture 
had fallen into disuse ; and it disappeared almost entirely 
as a result of the Teutonic invasions. Most of the lands 
given over to the monasteries were uncultivated and un- 
appropriated at the time of the donation. The monks 
cultivated them with their own hands. In course of time 
immense tracts of country were thus reclaimed. Marshes 
were drained ; forests cleared ; roads made through the 
cultivated territory ; bridges built ; and all the equipment 
of civilised life gradually reappeared. A tradition of highly- 
skilled agriculture and of proficiency in handicraft as well 
as in fishery, forestry, horticulture, etc., was developed in 
the monasteries ; and from the monasteries these arts got 
diffused among the people. “ Though agriculture and 
gardening,” writes Lecky, “ were the forms of labour in 
which the monks especially excelled, they indirectly became 
the authors of every other. For when a monastery was 
planted it soon became a nucleus around which the in- 
habitants of the neighbourhood clustered. A town was 
thus gradually formed, civilised by Christian teaching, 
stimulated to industry by the example of the monks and 
protected by the reverence that attached to them. At the 
same time, the ornamentation of the Church gave the first 
impulse to art.” 1 Thus, not only agriculture, and the 
kindred arts, but architecture, also, as well as painting, 
sculpture and music, were renewed in mediaeval Europe, 
by the initiative and example of the monks. 

On Letters and Science. — Again, the monasteries were the 
schools of learning. In fact, outside of Ireland where, 
besides the monastic schools, a system of education existed 
independent of the Church , 2 the monasteries were, during 
all these centuries, the sole custodians of literary and 
scientific knowledge in Europe. It was in the monasteries, 
too, that historical records began to be kept . 3 It was by 
the monks, and especially by the Irish monks, that the 
people were taught to cultivate their own national languages, 

1 History of Rationalism in Europe, vol. ii, pp. 239, 240. 

2 Cl. Joyce's Social History of Ireland, vol. i, chap, xi (See sec. 3, Lay 
Schools) . 

3 In this, too, Ireland is an exception. The Irish bardic class included 
hereditary historians as well as lawyers, doctors, poets, etc. Cf. ib. 



thus laying the foundation of modern European literature. 
The monasteries as well as the Carlovingian schools, 1 estab- 
lished by Charlemagne in the beginning of the 9th century 
under the influence and inspiration of the Church, were the 
parent stems from which the great mediaeval schools and 
Universities of Europe afterwards developed. 

Art. 4 — Abolition of Slavery 2 

Church’s Efforts on behalf of Slaves. — The Teutonic 
invasions had been calamitous for the slaves. Slavery now 
became much more widespread, and slaves lost very 
many of the privileges which had been secured for them 
during the preceding century. As the nations became 
Christian the Church again intervened in their behalf. It 
procured the liberation of large numbers of slaves in every 
country. Documents of the 5th, 6th, and 7th centuries 
contain numerous records of captives who had been reduced 
to slavery being redeemed by bishops, priests, monks and 
pious laymen. Such redeemed captives were sometimes 
sent back in thousands to their own country. During all 
these centuries, enactments were constantly made in the 
national and provincial Councils of the Church in the 
interests of the slaves, providing for the protection of 
maltreated slaves and for the help and patronage of those 
that were liberated, securing the validity of the marriages 
of slaves, enforcing in their interests rest on Sundays and 
feast days, forbidding or limiting traffic in slaves and for- 
bidding that freemen be reduced to slavery. 

Development of Slavery into Serfdom. — But the Church’s 
beneficent influence is best illustrated in her treatment of 
the slaves employed on the ecclesiastical estates, which 
eventually led to the abolition of slavery in Christendom. 
In the early centuries of this period the Church, owing to 
several causes, found itself in the possession of immense 

1 For an account of the dominationg influence of the Irish scholars in 
these schools, cf. Zimmer — Ireland’s Contribution to European Culture 
(translated from the German) ; Fitzpatrick, op. cit. 

2 Cf . Allard — Esclaves , Serfs et Mainmortables ; Brownlow — Lectures on 
Slavery and Serfdom in Europe (reprinted from The Month, 1890-91) ; 
Palgrave — Dictionary of Political Economy, arts. " Serfs,” “ Servus,” 
etc. ; Cath. Encyclop., art. “ Feudalism and Land Tenure.” ; Belloc — 
The Servile State. 



estates in every country of Europe. The immediate owners 
of these estates were the Pope himself, the bishops, the 
cathedral or collegiate chapters, and the monasteries. By 
virtue of a 4th century statute of Roman law, due to the 
influence of the Church, rural slaves could not be removed 
from the lands on which they worked even when the lands 
passed to another owner. This law was revoked after the 
barbarian invasions, except for slaves belonging to eccle- 
siastical estates. Hence the latter, whose numbers were 
immense, had the privilege of fixed work and permanent 
homes. By a whole series of canonical enactments the 
position of these slaves was gradually improved ; and the 
privileges enjoyed by the ecclesiastical slaves were gradually 
extended to those belonging to the lay-lords. The result 
was that about the 10th century European slavery had 
practically given way to serfdom. 1 

We shall see later how tolerable was the position of the 
mediaeval serf as compared with that of the slave or of the 
modern proletarian labourer. Especially on the immense 
ecclesiastical estates, the serf or villein was treated with 
peculiar liberality. Here again the standard set up in 
ecclesiastical estates gradually spread to the lay-manors, 
preparing the way for the eventual development of serfdom 
into peasant proprietorship. 

Art. 5 — Charity of the Church 2 

Its Influence on Feudal System. — Besides the relief which 
the monasteries provided for the poor and weak, the Church 
which always regarded the Corporal Works of Mercy among 
her primary functions, made provision for their wants in 
several other ways. The feudal system, which had developed 
in Europe during these centuries and dominated the whole 
social life of the middle ages, became largely permeated by 
Christian principles, and the relations between lord, vassal 
and serf were strongly imbued with the Christian spirit. 
King, prince and feudal lord were constantly reminded that 
they held their offices from God and were responsible to 
God for the welfare of those under their charge. The poor, 
the weak and the helpless were, in theory and to a large 

1 Cf. Belloc, op. oil., sec. iii, lor a brief and graphic account of this 
process of transformation. 2 Cf. Catholic Encyclop., “ Charity." 



extent in practice, objects of their special care. Thus, by 
Charlemagne’s legislation (circ. A.D. 800) the feudal lord 
was charged with the duty of caring for all the needy among 
his own vassals according to St. Paul’s principle that every- 
one should attend to the needs of his own household. 

The Patrimony of the Poor. — Besides the legal provisions 
in the feudal system in favour of the poor and the weak, 
there existed from the early centuries of the Church many 
other provisions for the relief of distress. All the Church 
revenues, even the sacred vessels, wore regarded as subject 
to the demands of charity. Ecclesiastical property was 
referred to as “ the Patrimony of the Poor,” and a fourth 
part of all ecclesiastical revenue was always set apart for 
this object. 1 

Charitable Organisations and Institutions. — Collections 
were regularly made for the same purpose in the churches. 
The wealthy and the powerful constantly contributed large 
portions of their property. 

The administration of charity was carried out by regular 
parochial organisations under the presidency of the bishops. 
Besides, there existed in almost every city from earliest 
times, parochial institutions called Xenodochia, which were 
under the control of the bishops. These, which had begun 
in the time of Constantine, were meant originally for widow's, 
the poor, the homeless, abandoned children and other help- 
less classes. They w'ere commonly managed by pious 
associations and w'ere endowed from ecclesiastical property. 

Conclusion. — Between the charitable work of the monas- 
teries, the recognised duty of the feudal lords, and the 
parochial organisations to meet the needs of the poor, 
destitution and misery were always tolerably provided for. 
Hence it is certain that even during the darkest period of 
the Early Middle Ages, amid almost universal war and 
violence, pauperism never reached the appalling proportions 
which it assumed in England and Ireland in the 18th and 
19th, and even the 20th centuries, although these countries 
then enjoyed peace, and England abounded in wealth. 

1 In the early ages of tile Cnureii, particularly during and after the 
reign of Constantine, ecclesiastical property gradually accumulated, as a 
result of grants and bequests made by the Emperor and other wealthy 
Christian proprietors. See infra, chap, xxvii, art. 4 ; cf. also Albers, op. cit., 
vol. i, pp. 254—257 




The Christian Age. — It is of this period, which is some- 
times referred to as the Golden Age of Christianity, that 
Leo XIII writes : 

“ There was once a time when States were governed by the 
principles of Gospel teaching. Then it was that the power and 
divine virtue of Christian wisdom had diffused itself throughout 
the laws, institutions and morals of the people, permeating all 
ranks and relations of civil society. Then, too, the religion 
instituted by Jesus Christ, established firmly in befitting dignity, 
flourished everywhere by the favour of princes and the legitimate 
protection of magistrates ; and the Church and State were happily 
united in concord and friendly interchange of good offices. The 
State, constituted in this wise, bore fruits important beyond all 
expectation whose remembrance is still and always will be in 
renown, witnessed to as they are by countless proofs which can 
never be blotted out or even obscured by any craft of any 
enemies.” 2 

Again, the same Pontiff writes : 

" Civil society was renovated in every part by the teachings 
of Christianity. ... In the strength of that renewal the human 
race . . . was brought back from death to life, and to so ex- 
cellent a life that nothing more perfect had been known before, 
or will come to be known in the ages yet to come.” 3 

The time referred to is the period of the 12th and 13th 
centuries, when the influence of the Church in Europe was 
at its zenith. Christian principles then dominated social 
relations more fully than at any other period before or 
since ; 4 and the Christian State then approached most 
nearly its full development. 

1 Besides the works of Chateaubriand, Balmes, Allies, K. Digby and 
Devas already referred to, of. Mourret, op. cit., vol. iv., " La Chretiente ” ; 
Albers, op. cit., tome i, pp. 423 ff ; Letters on Social History (C. S. Guild) ; 
Benevot, op. cit., part iii, “ Christian Rule at its Best '' ; Browne — The 
Achievement of the Middle Ages (London, 1928) ; Walsh — The Thirteenth, 
the Greatest of Centuries (New York, 1924) ; Montalembert — Histcire de 
Sainte Elizabeth de Hongrie, “ Introduction ” ; Frederick Schlegel — 
Philosophy of History (translated by B. Robertson — Bohn’s Standard 
Library), Lectures xiii and xiv, pp. 320-388. 

2 Immortale Dei, p. 55. 3 Rerum Novarum, p. 148. 

4 This refers to Europe as a whole. Some few countries should be ex- 
cepted. Ireland enjoyed the blessings of a Christian civilisation long 

' 2 4 


Its Outstanding Characteristics. — It was the age of great 
saints and churchmen like Bruno, Bernard, Francis of Assisi, 
Thomas of Aquin, Bonaventure, etc. : of great rulers who 
were at the same time Christian knights and heroes, such 
as St. Ludwig of Poland (d. 1227), Rodolph of Hapsburg 
(d. 1281), St. Louis of France (d. 1270), and his cousin and 
contemporary, St. Ferdinand of Spain. It was the period, 
too, when the influence of Christian womanhood w r aw most 
deeply felt in Europeau life ; when the thrones of Europe 
borrowed lustre from such noble matrons as Matilda, of 
Tuscany (d. 1114), St. Elizabeth of Hungary (d. 1231), 
St. Hedweg of Poland (d. 1245), Blanche of Castille, mother 
of St. Louis, Countess Sophia of Holland (d. 1176), and 
very many others. It was the age of the Crusades, of 
Gothic cathedrals, of Christian poetry and art, of Christian 
philosophy . 1 Finally, it was the epoch of true Christian 
democracy which was then realised under the control of 
the niedimval guilds, more fully than it has ever been before 
or since . 2 

Social System not Perfect, but Founded on True Principles. 

— We do not say that the mediaeval State was perfect. No 
human institution can ever be so, as long as human passions 
and human ignorance remain. Besides, in mediaeval Europe 
not a few characteristics inherited from paganism still 
survived, especially a certain helplessness among the masses 
of the people which was a heritage from centuries of slavery. 
Frederick Schlegel treating of this epoch v/hen, as he says, 
great characters, noble motives, lofty feelings and ideas 
abounded more than in any other period of history, writes : 
“ All that was then great and good in the State proceeded 
from Christianity and from the wonderful efficacy of religious 
principles. Whatever was imperfect and harmful was in 
the character of the men and of the age not yet fully 

before. In her case the period extending from the 6th to the 9th century 
(before the Norse invasions) may be regarded as the truly Christian epoch. 
Again, the Christian State flourished in the Spanish Peninsula on to the 
17th century and later still in Spanish-America, especially Mexico, where 
justice and liberty continued to flourish under a predominant Christian 
regime down almost to the 19th century. 

1 Cf. Walsh, op. cit., chaps, xvi-xx ; Browne, op. cit., pp. 161 ff. 

2 lb., chaps, ii-ix ; Brown, op. cit., pp. 46 ff. 



attuned to the ideals of Christianity.” 1 Had the Christian 
State been allowed to develop in a normal way, there is 
little doubt, that many of these defects would be gradually 
eliminated, and a type of true democracy evolved in each 
country, suitable to the needs and character of the par- 
ticular nation. This is substantially the evaluation of the 
mediaeval social system which is conveyed in the moderate 
and carefully weighed words of Pius XI : 

“ At one time,” he writes, “ there existed a social order, which, 
though by no means perfect in every respect, corresponded 
nevertheless in a certain measure to right reason according to 
the needs and conditions of the times. That this order has long 
since perished is not due to the fact that it was incapable of 
development and adaptation to changing needs and circum- 
stances, but rather to the wrong-doing of men. Men were 
hardened in excessive self-love and refused to extend that order, 
as was their duty, to the increasing numbers of the people ; or 
else, deceived by the attractions of false liberty and other errors, 
they grew impatient of every restraint and endeavoured to throw 
off all authority.” 2 

Unity of Christendom. — Before the end of the 11th 
century practically all the nations of Europe, except those 
on the eastern shores of the Baltic, had embraced Christianity. 
The worst abuses in the discipline of the Western Church — 
the Eastern Church had at this time practically completed 
its separation from Rome — arising from the perpetual strife 
of the 9th and 10th centuries, were now mostly healed by 
the reforms associated with the name of Hildebrand or 
Gregory VII (d. 1085). With all the nations and all the 
rulers of Europe sharing a common Catholic faith, the Pope 
as the Vicar of Christ on earth, was accorded by unanimous 
consent a position of paramount influence. This reached 
its climax during the reign of Innocent III (1193-1216), 
when the sense of a common Christendom forming, as it 
were, one great European Empire, and held together by the 
ties of a common faith pervaded all classes. 

The Crusades and Military Orders. — This union of the 
European nations was intensified by the great wars of the 
Crusades (1096-1273), including the protracted struggle 
with the Moors in the Spanish Peninsula. These wars, too, 

1 Op. cit., lecture xiv, p. 304. 

2 Quadragesimo Anno, 1931 (C. T. S. edit.), p. 44. 



gave occasion to the rise and spread of the great military 
Orders, the Knights of St. John, the Templars, the Teutonic 
Knights and the Spanish Knights of Calatrava and of St. 
James, wliich are a peculiar feature of Catholic life in this 
period. These Orders played an important part in the 
erection of the Kingdom of Portugal, in the suppression of 
the neo-pagan Albigenses of Southern Prance in the early 
half of the 13tli century, and later on in the conversion to 
Christianity of the Eastern Baltic nations and the creation 
of the Prussian State. It was the Crusades, too, and the 
Christian spirit, of wliich they were an expression, that 
brought the Order of Chivalry to its highest development 
and enabled the clergy to enforce effectively in Europe the 
observance of the Truce of God. 

Religious Institutions. — At the same time the Christian 
spirit of self-denial and prayer was exemplified and inten- 
sified by the rise and spread of the Cistercian Order, 1 in 
which the spirit of the early Benedictines was renewed. 
St. Bernard (d. 1153), the greatest of the Cistercians, whose 
attractive personality dominates the first half of the 12th 
century, may be regarded as the type and personification 
of his age. 

The foundation of the great Mendicant Orders in the 
13th century, namely, the Franciscans, the Dominicans, 
the Order of Mount Carmel and the Hermits of St. Augustine, 
marks a new development in the life of the Church. Unlike 
the earlier religious Orders, the Mendicant Friars bound 
themselves to absolute poverty, even as corporate bodies. 2 
Besides, they did not confine themselves to their monasteries, 
but mingled with the people, devoting their energies to the 
work of leading others by their example and preaching to 
follow the teaching of the Gospel. Their influence can 
hardly be exaggerated. The Mendicant Friar moving 
about among the people, living upon the alms of the faithful. 

1 The Benedictine monasteries have been computed to number about 
37,000 at the end of the 13th century (Cf. Catholic Encyclop. ii, p. 446). 
About the same time the Cistercian Congregation, which began in 1098, 
had more than 700 large monasteries of men in different countries of 
Europe and some 900 convents of nuns (Cf. Albers, op. cit., tome i, p. 535. 

a This rule of mendicancy w;is gradually modified by different Popes 
till finally the Council of Trent allowed all religious, except the Franciscans 
of the Strict Observance and the Capuchins, to hold corporate property. 


clad in the habit of poverty, was a perpetual reminder to 
all of the ideals of Christ. 

In the social sphere especially, the movement wrought 
by the spirit of St. Francis, renewed Christian life in Europe. 
The Third Orders of St Francis and St. Dominic, which 
were an adaptation for lay people of the Mendicant ideals 
of piety, detachment and charity, spread rapidly through 
Europe. The members included men and women of every 
rank, who bound themselves to carry out the obligations 
of religious perfection while following their ordinary avoca- 
tions in the world. “ The Third Orders,” says Lacordaire, 
“ produced saints in every walk of life from the palace of 
the monarch to the peasant’s cot ; and that, too, in such 
teeming multitudes that even the desert and the cloister 
might well feel jealous.” 1 

The Cities and Schools. This period is also marked by 
the rise of the towns. In the preceding centuries there was 
comparatively little town life in Europe. The Roman towns 
were declining even before the barbarian invasions ; and 
these hastened their decay. The new German races loved 
the open life of the country ; and during all the period of 
the Early Middle Ages social activities centred round the 
manor or the monastery. Owing to various causes, however, 
such as the attacks of the Northmen, Hungarians and 
Saracens in the 9th and 10th centuries, against whom strong 
walls and a central government were the only effective 
bulwarks, towns began to assume importance. The growth 
of trade and commerce, which appeared in the following 
centuries as a result of the Crusades, caused their further 
development. The cities of Northern and Central Italy 
were the first to reap the fruits of the trade and commerce 
with the East, which developed with the Crusades ; and 
towards the close of the 13th century, Venice, Genoa, 
Florence and Milan were not only wealthy and prosperous 
cities, but had each become the centre of a powerful re- 
publican State. Northern and Central Italy was studded 
over with similar city-republics of a smaller type, all prac- 
tically independent. The Italian cities became the centres 
of industry, learning and art, scarcely surpassed by the 
famous cities of early Greece. The Southern French towms 

Vie de St. Dominique, chap. xvi. 



and Barcelona developed a little later. In the 13th century, 
numerous important centres of commerce and trade had 
been established in France, Flanders, Germany and England, 
some of which remain to this day among the great com- 
mercial towns of the world. 1 

The most important social development resulting from 
the rise of the towns was the formation of the great burgher 
class out of whose successful struggles for political emanci- 
pation arose the Third Estate or Commons which would 
most probably have grown into a full and real democracy 
had not the virus of modern Liberalism poisoned its later 

Decline of Christendom. — It is outside our present scope 
to follow the course of the decline of the Church’s influence, 
or to trace the sorrowful story of the events which led to 
the catastrophe of the Protestant Revolt- — commonly called 
the “ Reformation — of the 16th century. The enforced 
exile of the Popes at Avignon (1309-76), the aggressive 
interference of the French kings, the great Western Schism 
(1378-1417), the neo-paganism intermingled with the revival 
of classical learning in the 15th century, the avarice and 
ambition of the German princes and, later on, of the English 
sovereigns and the Scottish lords, all had their share in 
bringing about the disaster. Abuses, too, in ecclesiastical 
discipline, owing principally to the above causes, were made 
the occasion and the pretext of robbing the people of their 
faith over large portions of Europe and preparing the way 
to their future enslavement. 2 

The social conditions, however, which had developed in 
the 12th and 13th centuries when the influence of the Church 
was at its height, did not change substantially till after the 
rise of Protestantism. The principles of Christian teaching 
which produced all that was good in these conditions, were 
not seriously questioned till the loth century. We have now 
to analyse these conditions and principles a little more fully. 

1 Town-life in Ireland did not develop till the 14th century, when a 
considerable degree of peace and prosperity and a renewal of Christian 
civilisation were realised in proportion as the Norman and English invaders 
were beaten off or partically absorbed by the native element. Cf. Mrs. 
Green — Making of Ireland and Its Undoing, chaps, v and vi ; Ryan, S.J. — 
Ireland front A. D. 800 to A. D. 1600, chaps, vii, viii, xi and xii (Dublin, 1928). 

s Cf. Pastor — History of the Popes, vol. v, “ Introduction,” and vol. vii, 
“ Introduction.” 



Social Life permeated by the Christian Spirit. — The whole 
structure of mediaeval society was founded upon Christianity. 
All the people were Catholic ; and ecclesiastical influence was 
very powerful. Christian principles were inculcated in the 
current literature, the pulpit, the schools, and the tribunal 
of Penance ; and were taken for granted, even when not 
faithfully followed, by all classes of society. The laws and 
their administration, the economic policy of the State, the 
recognised relations between the different classes, even 
international politics, were judged by Christian standards. 
So strong and deep-rooted was public opinion in the matter 
that it was difficult for individuals to disregard these 
standards openly. 

Kenelm Digby mentions many interesting particulars 
illustrating the Catholic tone of public life. Thus : “ A 
painting of the Crucifixion was usually to be seen in the 
great chambers of the parliaments . . . and over the seats 
of justice. The great, solemn, thirteenth century paintings 
of sacred subjects on the walls of the great hall at Sienna, 
in which the grand council of the Republic assembled, are 
an evidence of the tone of the government.” 

In the choice of public functionaries, fidelity and probity 
were the great qualities insisted on. The injunction con- 
tained in one of the Capitularies of Charlemagne gives an 
idea of the spirit which continued during mediaeval times 
to dominate public administration. 

“ Let no count hold his plaids [viz., placita generalia — a kind 
of local council] unless he be fasting and fed with sense.” 

Again, Digby quotes the following from a mediaeval 
collection of municipal laws : 

“ The town sheriff has to visit the round of the walls at night 




to see that the watch has sufficient clothing, lie has to inspect 
the provisions destined for the poor.” 1 

Political Principles. — The fundamental principle of all 
mediaeval teaching upon public authority and civic rights 
was that authority comes from God and is given to the 
ruler solely for the people’s good ; and that the people whose 
good was to be promoted include all classes equally, rich 
and poor, high and low, serf, burgher and feudal lord. 2 
Further, owing to the ingrained spirit of Christianity in 
favour of the poor and weak, the principle was commonly 
admitted that the humbler classes had the first claim upon 
the consideration and solicitude of the ruling powers. Thus 
John of Salisbury 3 ( d . 1180), a typical 12th century political 
philosopher, writes : 

“ Then and only then will the health of the commonwealth 
be sound and flourishing when the higher members devote them- 
selves to the lower ; and when similarly the lower members co- 
operate with the higher so that each and all are as it were 
members of one another, and each believes his own interest best 
served by what he knows to be most usefully provided for others.” 4 * & 

Again, the same author writes : 

“ All things are to be referred to the public good ; and whatever 
is useful to the humbler classes, that is, the multitude should be 
pursued in all things. . . . Christ will hear the poor when they 
cry out, and it will be in vain to multiply vows, and to endeavour, 
as it were, to bribe God by gifts.” 3 

Hence, Henry II of England describes himself (and was 
described) as the “Defender of the Poor and the Defenceless.” 

1 Op. cit., bk. iii, chap. iv. Cf. also Otto Gierke — Political Thought of 
the Middle Ages (1900), translated by F. W. Maitland. F01 an interesting 
and well-documented account of the Christian spirit which pervaded the 
English mediaeval law, see an article in The Clergy Review (March, 1931) 
entitled “ Christianity and the Common Law.” 

2 Cf. St. Thomas, De Rege et Regno (De Regimme Principum), for a sketch 
of the ideal Christian State. Whether or not this book or the greater 
part of it is really the work of St. Thomas, it certainly belongs to the 
period of which we treat and summarises the then prevailing teaching. 

3 John of Salisbury, familiar to students of Irish history in connection 
with the supposed Bull of Pope Adrian IV, was the friend of Adrian IV 
and of Henry II of England ; and the secretary of Henry’s Chancellor, 
Thomas a Becket. He was a prolific writer on political and other subjects. 

4 Policraticus vi. 20, cited by Rev. Paschalis Larkin, O.S.F.C .— Property 

in the XVIII Century (Cork University Press, 1930), p. 3. 

& De Nugis Curialium, lib. v, chap, xxvi (Rolls Series). 



Vincent of Beauvais of the Order of St. Dominic (d. 1264), 
who was tutor to the cliildren of St. Louis, writes in much 
the same strain as John of Salisbury on the duty of govern- 
ment : 

“ There must be mutual safety for the king and the people ; 
he errs who thinks that the king is safe when nothing is safe 
from the king. 1 

Tyrannical Rule Reprobated. — Another fundamental prin- 
ciple strongly insisted upon in the political teaching of that 
age is that the most absolute power is regulated by funda- 
mental laws against which whatever is done is of its own 
nature null and void. This principle, at variance alike 
with the pagan principles of absolutism and the modern 
Liberalist view of the omnipotence of a majority, is fre- 
quently emphasised by St. Thomas (d. 1274). Thus he writes : 

“ One is bound to obey civil rulers, in as far as the order of 
justice demands. Hence if the power is not held justly, but is 
rather a usurpation, or if the laws are unjust, the subjects are 
not bound to obey, unless perchance in order to avoid scandal 
or danger.” 2 

Again the same writer has : 

“ Those who defend the common good are not to be called 

seditious in resisting those who oppose it The tyrant 

himself it is that is seditious, who encourages disunion and 
sedition in the people he rules, in order that he may more easily 
retain his control over them. For this is tyranny to aim, namely, 
at the personal advantage of the ruler to the detriment of the 
people.” 3 

We find in Dante ( d . 1321), whose work contains so 
faithful a picture of the mediaeval spirit, many echoes of 
this attitude towards unjust rule. For instance a certain 
group in the infernal regions are thus referred to : 

“ Those are the souls of tyrants, who were given 
To blood and rapine. Here they wail aloud 
Their merciless wrongs.” 4 

1 Speculum Doctrines (Rolls Series), lib. v, chap . ii. 

2 2 a . 2®. Q. 104, a. 6 a,d 3™. 

3 76 ., Q. 42, a. 2 ad 3 urn . Cf. the words of the great English lawyer 
Coke to James I ; " Rex non debet esse sub hominc sed sub Deo et lege ” 
(a king ought not to be subject to man but to God and to the law) — 
(cited in The Clergy Review, loc. cit., p. 257). 

4 Hell, c. xii. 11 . 104— 107 (Cary’s translation). Cf. St. Thomas, De Rege 
et Regno (De Regimine Pnncipum), cap. xi, for the same ideas. 



Mediaeval Christian Democracy. — Such doctrines com- 
monly acknowledged, and the structure of a society 
fashioned under their influence, effectually secured a high 
degree of genuine democratic rule. Despotism, understood 
in the sense of irresponsible rule exercised mainly in the 
interest of the rulers and practically regardless of the 
people’s rights — the system of government which obtained 
all over Europe before the rise of Christianity and was re- 
introduced as a result of the Protestant Revolt — did not 
generally prevail under the Christian regime of the Middle 
Ages. This fact, which is strongly asserted by the Catholic 
apologists, 1 is acknowledged even by historians hostile to 
the Church. Thus Lecky writes : “ The balance of power 
produced by the numerous corporations which she [viz., 
the Church] created or sanctioned, the reverence for 
tradition resulting from her teaching which created a net- 
work of unwritten customs with the force of public laws, 
the dependence of the civil upon the ecclesiastical power, 
and the rights of excommunication and deposition [exer- 
cised by the ecclesiastical authorities] all combined to 
lighten the pressure of despotism.” 2 

Hallam, while acknowledging the prevailing spirit of 
justice aud democratic independence in the mediteval 
system, does not state that this was due to the influence of 

Decentralisation of Political Power. — Another very impor- 
tant safeguard against tyranny was the decentralisation of 
political power. In this the mediaeval state contrasts 
strongly with the ancient pagan state as well as with the 
royal absolutism of the 17th and 18th centuries and the 
centralising tendencies of the modern bureaucracies. The 
extensive power conferred by royal charter on the city 
municipalities, tvhich were organised on a democratic basis, 
and the fundamental laws and privileges of the provinces 
were all strong safeguards against centralised despotism. 

1 C f . Ryan and Millar, op. cit. ; also Chateaubriand, op. cit., tomeiii, chaps, 
vi, x and xi ; Balmes, op. cit., chaps, xlix-txiii ; De Maistre, Du Pape, 
liv. iii, chaps, ii, iv and v. 

2 Rationalism in Europe, vol. ii, chap, vi, pp. 216, 217. Cf. also Hallam — 
Middle . 4 ges, vol. i, chap, ii, part ii. 



So too was the guild organisation of the towns, to which 
Pius XI refers as 

“ The highly-developed social life which once flourished in a 
variety of institutions organically linked with each other .” 1 

On the other hand the very real power of the king, which 
depended largely upon popular support, acted as a check 
against the abuses of local barons . 2 

Conclusion.- — Hence, although wicked and unprincipled 
rulers are to be met with even in the period of which we 
write, their power to injure and oppress was much more 
limited than that of a modern bureaucracy. Widespread 
injustice and continued tyranny were scarcely possible ; 
and the oppression and tyranny which did exist here and 
there were partially counteracted by the resources which 
religion supplied. 

1 Quadragesimo Anno, p. 36. 

2 Concerning the attitude of the great mediaeval theologians towards 
slavery, an attitude which some writers represent as out of harmony with 
the Christian principle of men’s equality in essential rights and human 
dignity, see infra, part ii, chap, xvii, art. 4. On the whole question of 
mediaeval political teaching, cf. four valuable articles by Professor A. 
O'Rahilly, M.A., published in Studies — viz., “The Catholic Origin of 
Democracy " (March, 1919) ; “ The Sources of English and American 
Democracy ” (June, 1919) ; “ The Democracy of St. Thomas ” (March, 
1920) ; and " The Sovereignty of the People ” (March and June, 1921). 



Division of Subject. — Christian principles dominated the 
economic no less than the political teaching in mediaeval 
times. The responsibilities attaching to the ownership of 
property, the principles of justice and equity in wages and 
commercial dealings, the lawfulness or unlawfulness of 
charging interest upon borrowed money, are questions of 
conscience which find practical application every day of 
one’s life. Hence it was inevitable that the Church’s 
teaching upon such matters should exert a profound influence 
on social relations among Catholic and deeply religious 
communities as all the European nations then were. We 
shall, therefore, treat briefly of the three main principles 
of mediaeval economy that clash most strongly with modern 
Liberal views. These relate to Ownership of Goods, the 
Just Price in buying and selling, and Usury. The contrast 
between social and economic life, as we know it to-day, 
and that of the Christian period is rooted mainly upon the 
difference between the Christian and the modem Liberal 
attitude towards these three questions. 

Art. 1 — Ownership of Goods 

Before attempting to analyse the mediaeval doctrine of 
ownership (which has always been the Catholic view) we 
shall first try to explain briefly the difference between 
Private Ownership and the Communal Ownership of goods. 

Communal Ownership. — In communal ownership, the 
goods in question are held in common by the members of 
a certain group such as a corporation, a municipality, an 
industrial guild, or even the State itself. No individual 
member can claim exclusive ownership of any of the goods, 
although he may use them in common with the other 
members as far as his needs require ; or even may have 
certain portions of them — determined according to the 
nature and extent of his needs — assigned to him for his 
exclusive use. 

Religious Communities and Socialists. — This type of 
ownership is familiar to us in the institution of religious 




communities. The community or congregation owns pro- 
perty as a corporate body, but the individual members are 
excluded by their vow of religious poverty from personal 
or private ownership, or at least from the free exercise of it. 
Each member does the work assigned him, and each receives 
from the common store all he may reasonably require. 

Such also is the system of ownership which the Socialists 
or certain sections of them, aim at establishing, at least to 
some extent, over the whole State. They would have the 
goods, or at least the productive goods, owned in common 
by certain groups within the State, or even by the whole 
State as one corporate body, while the individual members 
co-operate in the work of production and distribution, and 
each is enabled to use the property and to enjoy the fruits 
of the co-operative labour in accordance with his reasonable 

Communal Ownership and Co-Partnership, — We may note 
that communal ownership, as here defined, differs essentially 
from co-partnership as exemplified in trading companies. 
In the latter system, the extent of each member’s claim 
upon the fruits of the industry is determined solely by the 
amount he has contributed to the common fund whether 
in capital or by labour ; while, in communal ownership, 
the individual member’s claim is determined principally or 
solely by his reasonable needs. 

Communism and Collectivism. — We may further note the 
distinction sometimes made between Communism and 
Collectivism. Both these terms imply common ownership 
of the means of production established as a regular system 
over the whole State. In the system known as Communism 
(which is characterised by Communal Ownership properly 
so-called), the distribution of the produce is made according 
to the principle : “ To each according to his needs ” ; 

whereas in the system known as Collectivism , the distribution 
of the produce is carried out on the principle : “ To each 
one according to his merits.” In other words, under the 
Collectivist system each is supposed to receive his share of 
the fruits of the work of production in proportion to the 
amount or efficiency of the labour he has contributed. 
Thus the system of ownership, which at present (1931) 



actually exists or is supposed by law to exist in Soviet 
Russia, seems to oscillate between Communism and Col- 
lectivism as here defined. Hence, Collectivism may be 
broadly described as universal co-partnership established 
compulsorily and by law as the prevailing system of owner- 
ship over the whole State. 

Private Ownership. 1 - — In opposition to the communal 
system of ownership is that of private ownership. In this 
the individual (or family) has exclusive rights over such 
property as appertains to him in virtue of certain recognised 
titles, such as occupancy, production, inheritance, contract, 
etc. ; and ordinarily; each individual or family depends for 
sustenance solely or principally upon such goods. 

Unchristian Concept of Private Ownership. — We find this 
system in its extreme form in the old Roman Empire, before 
the rise of Christianity, and in modern states which have 
fallen under the influence of unchristian Liberalism. In 
these social systems communal ownership, though not 
illegal, did not and does not prevail to any considerable 
extent except in the public utilities (such as roads, public 
hospitals, the postal service, public libraries, etc.), and in 
the religious or charitable institutions organised by the 
Church. The individual owner may control property to 
an unlimited extent. He may do what he likes with this 
property and live in the highest degree of luxury without 
any reference to the needs of other members, even those of 
his own country or municipality. 

This perverted conception of ownership, resulting from a 
non-Christian attitude of mind and belonging properly to 
an unchristian civilisation, was first introduced into the 
Christian States of Europe in the 14th and 15th centuries 

1 Cf. St. Thomas, i a . 2®, Q. 105, ; 2 a . 2®, Q. 66 ; a. i, 2 and 7 ; Q. 32, 
a. 5 and 6 ; i a , 2®, Q. 94 ; a. 5 ad 3 um and Q. 105 a. 2 ( corp .). Ashley — 
Economic History, vol. i, chap, iii, pp. 126-131 (London, 1913) ; O’Brien — • 
Essay on Mediceval Economic Teaching, chap, ii, secs. 1 and 2 (Longmans, 
London, 1920) ; Palgrave — Dictionary of Political Economy , art. " Aquinas.” 
Dom Bede Jarrett, O.P. — S. Antonio and Mediaival Economics (Herder, 
London) ; Larkin, op. cit., chap, i — A very valuable and well-documented 
sketch of the mediaeval conception of property rights. Professor O’Rahilly 
— St. Thomas' Theory of Property (art. in Studies, vol. ix, p. 337, 1920) ; 
McLoughlin — St. Thomas and Property { ib ., p. 571) ; W. Sanderson— 
"Chaos in Industry”), a thoughtful and able article published in The 
Nineteenth Century and After (October, 1925, pp. 515-526). 



with the introduction of Roman law. 1 It was, however, 
only after the rise of Protestantism in the 16th century 
that it gained general currency. 

The most repulsive feature of this extreme system of 
private ownership is that many individuals, sometimes 
even the majority of the population, may be practically 
excluded from their natural right of access to the goods 
of the earth. This exclusion may be enforced by law as in 
case of the slaves under the old Roman regime. Sometimes 
it arises as a result of the actual working of the system as 
in the case of multitudes of the modern proletariat 

Mediaeval System of Ownership. — Mediaeval teaching re- 
jected completely this extreme form of private ownership, 
emphasising the limitations which the natural law, as well 
as Christian teaching, set to property rights. While not 
repudiating or even discouraging communal ownership where 
found practical and useful as a supplementary and cor- 
rective element within the prevailing system of private 
ownership, mediaeval teaching and practice rejected com- 
munal ownership as the ordinary system of conducting 
human affairs. The mediaeval doctors maintained that the 
only system compatible at the same time with man’s tem- 
perament and with the teachings of Christianity, was a 
system of private ownership limited by obligations of justice 
and charity, subject in due measure to the Higher Dominion 
( cdtum dominium) of the State, and supplemented where 
useful and possible by a certain admixture of communal 

St. Thomas’ Teaching. — The Christian and mediaeval 
teaching on ownership may be gathered from several 
passages in the Summa and other writings of St. Thomas. 
His doctrine, which is founded upon the Gospel teaching 
as interpreted by the early Fathers, summarises the current 
views of his time, and was adopted as the standard by all 
or practically all the mediaeval writers. He has been 
followed also by the great Catholic theologians of the 16th 

1 Cf. Mourret, op. cit., vol. v, chap, ii ; also Meyer and Ardant — La 
Question Agraire, 2nd edit. (Paris, 1887), Pr&n.Partie — “ Introduction.” 
Larkin, loc. cit. See infra, chap, xvii, art 3. 



and 17th centuries. We may briefly summarise St. Thomas’ 
doctrine as follows : 

1. God, Who alone has the supreme dominion and owner- 
ship of material things, has ordained the latter for the use 
of all. Hence, such a practical access to these things as 
may enable man to supply his human needs is natural to 
him, and is each man’s inalienable right. 1 

2. It is false and even heretical to say that all private 
or exclusive ownership of material things is against the 
natural law. 2 , 

3. The system of private as contrasted with that of 
communal ownership is not only lawful, but within certain 
limits is necessary for the due conduct of human life, at 
least as long as men retain their present normal character- 
istics. Hence it is imposed on man by the Law of the 
nations {Jus Gentium). 3 

Proofs of the Necessity of Private Ownership. — This last 
proposition St. Thomas proves by three reasons — (a) Private 
ownership supplies a necessary stimulus to human endeavour. 
For men will not ordinarily put forth their best efforts in 
productive labour except the fruits of the labour are to be 
their own. (6) Private ownership facilitates the proper 
division and co-ordination of labour, whereas in communal 
ownership the distribution of labour would be very difficult 
or impossible, (c) Private ownership promotes peace and 
harmony. For in this system (when properly understood) 
each one has sufficient and is content with his own ; whereas 

1 2 a , 2*, Q. 66, a. i and 7. 

2 lb., a. 3, Sed contra. 

3 Cf. ib , a. 2 ad i u,rl and Q. 37, a. 3. For the precise meaning of the 
Jus Gentium, cf. St. Thomas 1, 2 a3 , Q. 95, a. 4, and Meyer, S.J., op. cit.. 
Pars. i ma , n. 571, and Pars. 2 a , n. 178. It differs from the natural law 
in that its obligations are not so urgently demanded by man’s individual 
nature and destiny as the obligations of the natural law. Nevertheless 
given fallen man as he actually is, and with his social instincts and needs, 
the dictates of the Jus Gentium are morally necessary for him. Hence, 
whether the obligations of the Jus Gentium rest upon positive human 
law, as some seem to hold, or upon remote conclusions of the natural law, 
as others assert, all agree that it is in practice necessary for man’s well- 
being and cannot be changed by human enactment. For such an enact- 
ment, as for instance a law abolishing the institution of private property, 
would be contrary to the common good and so intrinsically invalid. 



disputes occur more frequently among those that possess 
things in common . 1 

Christian Concept of Private Ownership. — The system of 
private ownership, however, which St. Thomas defends as 
lawful, and in practice obligatory, is not to be understood 
in the extreme individualistic sense already referred to. It 
includes only the exclusive right of dominion and the control 
of the production or exploitation and of the distribution of the 
goods ( potestas procurandi et dispensandi). It does not 
include the exclusive right to the use of them. This right 
is strictly limited and cannot be exercised without due 
consideration for the needs of others. In this regard the 
owner has only a priority or first claim as far as his needs 
require. St. Thomas’s words arc as follows : 

“ In regard to that [namely, the use of goods] one must not 
regard material things as one’s own, but as common property, 
so that one freely shares them with others who need them .” 2 

The limitation here implied to the lawful use of property 
rights is an obvious conclusion from the fundamental prin- 
ciple that God has ordained material tilings to satisfy the 
needs of all. The actual division of them by means of 
private ownership, which is a human institution, cannot 
validly contravene that decree, nor therefore prevent men 
from satisfying their needs by them. Consequently the 
property which people possess in excess of what they require 
should be used to satisfy the needs of those that are in want . 3 

Its Social Aspects. — Hence, according to mediaeval teach- 
ing the rights of private ownership were subject to the 
following limitations : 

(a) Anyone may in case of a clear and pressing need 
(evidens et urgens necessitas) lawfully disregard another’s 
owmership and appropriate for his own use what he thus 
clearly and urgently requires ; nor can the owner who has 
no urgent and immediate need of the tiling in question 
lawfully prevent him. He would violate charity and even 
justice by doing so. 

1 lb., Q. 66, a. 2 (corp.). St. Thomas apparently does not mention the 
reason which by some is regarded as the most convincing of all in favour of 
the system of private owmership, namely, that it is a necessary means of 
securing the individual’s personal independence and responsibility. 

! lb. From other passages (such as ib., a. 7) we know that St. Thomas 
implies that one’s own reasonable needs are satisfied before the obligation 
arises of sharing the goods with others. 3 lb., a. 7 (corp.). 



( b ) The owner is bound at least under an obligation of 
charity to distribute the goods he does not require for his 
own reasonable needs to those that do need them. Hence 
his exclusive right to such goods is confined to the control 
over the working or exploitation of the capital, and directing 
the distribution of the proceeds ( potestas procurandi et 
dispensandi). These latter he is hound, in varying degrees 
and within varying limitations according to circumstances, 
to give to those in need . 1 But when all men’s wants cannot 
be relieved, the owner may select the particular persons with 
whom he will share the goods . 2 

(c) Although outside the ease of clear and pressing needs, 
an individual may not lawfully appropriate for his own use 
even the superfluous goods of his neighbour, he has a right 
in Legal Justice that the public authority, whether guild 
or municipality or State, should see to it that he gets a 
fair opportunity of providing for all his reasonable needs, 
even though it were necessary for that purpose to override 
another’s ownership, in regard, that is, to his superfluous 
goods . 3 

Extension of Communal side by side with Private Owner- 
ship. — The tendency of mediaeval teaching and practice 
was to encourage a reasonable and voluntary extension of 
the communal ownership of property, as an offset to the 
dangers and shortcomings of an exclusive system of Private 
ownership. For the Church has always recognised that 
private property alone is not sufficient to meet the needs 
of the masses of the people. There will always be numbers 
who cannot, or in practice will not, acquire private property 
sufficient for their security. Hence some type of communal 
or quasi-communal property is usually required to supple- 
ment private ownership . 4 

1 Cf. chap, xxvii, art. 4, for a short exposition of the extent and urgency 
of this obligation. 

2 lb. 

3 lb., Q. 58, a. 6 ; Q. 61, a. 1 ad 4 um ; i a 2®, Q. 105. De Rege et Regvo 
( De Regimine Principum), lib. i, cap. xv. 

4 See Meyer et Ardant, op. cit., 2 ie *ne partie, chap, vi, pp. 279 ff. 

Compare also the words of Comte de Mun, leader of the Catholic social 
movement in France : “ While proclaiming that the right of private 

property is a natural right we only demand that alongside of private 
property a certain amount of collective [or communal] property be freely 



Owingtothis attitude on the part of the Church, it gradually 
came about in nearly every country of Europe as a result 
of the voluntary gifts of Christian rulers and other pious 
benefactors, that a large portion of the wealth, including 
sometimes almost a third part of the whole property of 
the country, was held in trust by Christian corporations 
of various kinds to be administered for the benefit of the 
members and others in accordance with their actual require- 
ments. Thus Church property and the corporate property 
of the guilds were applied and distributed, to a great extent 
in meeting the wants of those in need. 

Especially in Land. — There were besides, in every country, 
large tracts of land called “ Commons,” which were held 
on the communal system. Again, turbary rights, fisliing 
rights, hunting rights, etc., were also usually communal. 
It was in accordance with the general custom in mediaeval 
times, if not a recognised principle, that all the soil should 
not be appropriated, and even in what was appropriated that 
certain rights should always be reserved to the community. 

Conclusion. — All these customs and recognised principles, 
limiting property rights, and supplementing the system of 
private ownership, combined with the influence upon public 
opinion of the Church’s teaching, had an immense effect 
during all this period in equalising the condition of the 
people and moderating extremes of poverty and wealth. 

Art. 2 — The Just Price 

Application in Mediaeval Times. — The mediaeval law of 
Just Price is another example of the altruistic spirit which 
permeated the social and economic life of the middle ages. 
Individuals were not permitted to use freely the property 
they controlled in ways that might be detrimental to the 
common good. They were compelled, when the needs of 
others required it, to place the goods they had to dispose of 
at the service of the public under equitable conditions. The 
poor and weak were protected against unfair competition, 

established to vest [ior communal purposes] in free associations, munici- 
palities and corporations ” (cited by Garriguet, op. cit., pp. 163, 164). 
Hence, too, the Church has always been so insistent on the conservation 
of ecclesiastical property, which is in large part the “ Patrimony of the 
Poor.” Cf. Meyer et Aidant, loc. cit., and Sanderson, loc. cit. 



so that all might be secured a fair access to the material 
goods of the community. 

The laws of Just Price 1 had to be observed in wages, 
buying and selling and every contract of exchange ; other- 
wise the contract was accounted unjust and invalid in 
conscience, and the aggrieved party had a claim to restitu- 
tion. “ Whoever,” writes Trithemius, a well-known fifteenth 
century author, “ buys up com, meat and wine in order to 
drive up their prices, and amass money at the cost of others, 
is, according to the laws of the Church, no better than a 
common criminal. In a well-governed community all 
arbitrary raising of prices in the case of articles of food and 
clothing is peremptorily stopped. In times of scarcity 
merchants who have supplies of such commodities can be 
compelled to sell them at fair prices ; for in every com- 
munity care should be taken that all the members should 
be provided for, lest a small number be allowed to grow 
rich, and revel in luxury to the hurt and prejudice of the 
many .” 2 

Contrast between Christian and Non-Christian Standpoint. 

In the old Roman law, just as in modem Liberal states, 
selfishness was assumed to be the dominating motive in 
every contract ; and the fullest liberty was allowed to both 
parties to decide the price and even to over-reach each 
other, provided nothing was done that the law regarded 
as fraud . 3 According to mediaeval teaching on the other 
hand, the price of a commodity was supposed to be deter- 
mined by objective value alone ; and could not be justly 
influenced by the special need or ignorance of buyer or 

Doctrine of the Just Price. — This doctrine, which was 
universally accepted in mediaeval times, is thus summarised 
by St. Thomas : 

“ If the price exceeds the value of the thing, or if the thing 
is worth more than the price paid, the equality which justice 
requires is done away with.” 

1 Ci. St. Thomas, 2 a , 2®, Q. 77, a. 1 and 4 ; O'Brien, op. cit., chap, iii, 
sec. i ; Palgrave — Diet, of Pol. Economy, art. “ Justum Pretium ” ; Cath. 
Encyclop., art “ Political Economy ” ; Ashley, op. cit., vol. i, chap, iii, 
sec. 16 ; Ryan — Distributive Justice (New York, 1915) sec. iv., chap, xxiii, 
pp. 332—336; Bede Jarrett, op. cit., chap, vii ; Sanderson, loc. cit. 

3 Quoted in O’Brien, op. cit., pp. 124, 125. 

3 St. Thomas, 2S, 2a, Q. 77, a. 1. 



The seller cannot justly exact a higher price merely on 
account of the special need the buyer may have of the 
thing, or the accidental advantage that may accrue to 
him from it ; for in such cases he would be selling what is 
not his . 1 Hence the criterion of exchange value was some- 
thing intrinsic to the commodity itself, not merely com- 
petition or the higgling of the market. Hence, too, the 
modem distinction between value in use and value in ex- 
change was recognised only to a very limited extent. 

How it was Fixed. — The objective value of a commodity 
was calculated mainly and primarily upon the cost of 
production. This latter, which was accounted the first 
charge upon every product, was itself determined on the 
basis of a becoming standard of living for the producers. 

In the case of most commodities, the Just Price was 
usually fixed by the guilds or by the municipality, or even 
by the State. Even when the price was not legally deter- 
mined, it was not left to the arbitrary decision of the buyer 
or seller, but was supposed to be fixed by what was known 
as the common estimation of the community. In this case, 
although prices might vary within certain limits, it was well 
understood that to pass these limits for accidental causes, 
such as scarcity or the special needs of the buyer or seller 
would be unjust. 

Mediaeval Attitude Towards Trade and Speculation. — 

Mediaeval principles ordinarily approved only of two sources 
of wealth and profit, namely, the natural produce of the 
earth and labour . 2 The occupation of the speculator or 
trader, he, namely, who buys not in order to use but to 
sell again at a dearer price, was looked upon with disfavour ; 
and its morality was, for a long time, considered doubtful. 
“ Such trading,” says St. Thomas, “ is justly condemned 
(vituperatur) because of its own nature it subserves the 
desire of gain which knows no limit and tends to indefinite 
increase.” He goes on, however, to say that it is not neces- 

1 lb. 2 Cf . Dante : 

“ These two, if thou recall to mind 
Creation's holy book from the beginning. 

Were the right source of life and excellence 
To human kind.” 

« — Hell, c. xi, 1 1 8— 12 1 (Cary’s translation). 



sarily vicious, and that moderate profits, which would be 
a just wage for one’s labour, would be lawful.” 1 

Although the prevailing attitude towards trading became 
more liberal in the following centuries, with the gradual 
expansion of commerce consequent upon the Crusades, it 
was always held to be less honourable in itself than pro- 
ductive labour, and of less solid utility to the State. Besides, 
it was recognised that the activities of the trader and the 
commercial dealer, owing to the numerous temptations to 
avarice and dishonesty, and the greater difficulty in insuring 
the observance of the law of Just Price, required to be care- 
fully scrutinised and kept within the limits of justice . 2 

Effects on Social Life of the Principle of the Just Prices — 

The doctrine of the Just Price and the whole mediaeval 
attitude towards trading profits imply a fundamental con- 
trast between the Catholic economic outlook and the one 
that prevails in modern times. Although it may be difficult 
to determine with exactness the intrinsic value of a com- 
modity or the just price at which it might be sold, it was 
universally admitted that all commodities had a certain 
value which common estimation could determine and which 
accidental circumstances, such as scarcity or the special 
needs of the buyer or seller, could not substantially change. 
Competition was thus confined within the limits of natural 
equity, and the unjust activities of the financier, the middle- 
man and the trader were kept in check. 

The Principle of the Living Wage. — The recompense of 
labour or the rate of wages was determined in accordance 
with the general rules relating to just price. Labour is the 
ordinary means by which, according to the law of nature, 
man supplies the needs of human life. Hence it was re- 
garded as possessed of an intrinsic minimum value. This 
value was calculated on the principle that the worker 
should have wherewithal to support life in reasonable human 
conditions according to his capacity and state. The price 
of the labour expended in the production of an article or 
the worker’s w r age was regarded as the first consideration 

1 2 a, 2®, Q. 77, a. 4. 

2 Cl. O’Brien, loc. til., pp. 13G U, 



in fixing the price of a commodity. 1 The actual rate of 
wages was usually fixed by the guilds. 

Recognised but not Elaborated by Mediaeval Writers. — 

The obligation of paying a just wage was so universally 
accepted that the matter is little discussed by the mediaeval 
writers. St. Thomas refers to the just wage only accident- 
ally here and there. 2 Albertus Magnus alludes to the same 
matter in his Ethica, where he implies that the human needs 
of the producer of the article, or, in other words, the amount 
of the labour expended on its production, is the main 
element to be considered in estimating its exchange value. 3 

But that question was not then by any means as urgent 
or important as it has become in our times. In those days 
the proletariat or class of unpropertied wage earners did not 
exist, or was very small. The peasant or serf had his own 
holding, the labour he had to give to the lord of the soil 
being regulated by custom, while the working classes of the 
towns were mostly independent producers who sold their 
wares instead of their labour. 

Art. 3 — Usury 4 

Prevalence and Destructive Effects of Usury. — Leo XIII, 
enumerating the main causes of the misery and wretchedness 
of which the working classes of modem times are the un- 
happy victims, mentions usury as one. 

“ Public institutions and laws have set aside the ancient 
religion. Hence by degrees it has come to pass that the working 
men have been surrendered, isolated and helpless to the hard- 
heartedness of employers and the greed of unchecked com- 
petition. The mischief has been increased by rapacious usury, 
which, although more than once condemned by the Church, is 

1 Cf. O’Brien, ib. ; Ryan, op. cit., p. 338. 

2 Cf. i a , 2®, Q. 114, a. I, where he takes for granted that the rate of 
wages comes under the law of Just Price ; also In. iii, Dist. 18, a. 2, where 
he implies that just wages or hire are to be measured not arithmetically, 
but proportionately. 

3 Cf. Ethica, lib. v, trac, ii, cap. ix and x. 

1 Cf. St. Thomas, 2 a , 2®, Q. 78, aa. 1-4. Macksey — Argumenta Socio- 
logica, cap. iv ; Vermeersch — Qucsstiones de Justitia, Qumstio Nona ; 
Costa Rosetti — Philosophia Moralis, pp. 766-770 (note) ; Larkin, op. cit., 
178 if- — a well-documented historical sketch ; O’Brien, op cit., chap, iii, 
sec. ii ; Bede Jarrett, op. cit., chap, vii ; Ashley, op. cit., vol. i, chap, iii, 
sec. 17 ; Cath. Encyclop., art. “ Usury” ; Palgrave, op. cit., art. “ Canon 
Law ” ; Garriquet, op. cit., 4 icmc partie, chap, iii ; Antoine, op. cit., 
chap, xvii, arts. 5 and 6 ; Belliot, op. cit., pp. 162 ff. 



nevertheless under a different guise, but with like injustice still 
practised by covetous and grasping men.” 1 

Devas speaks of the prevalence of usury and the incal- 
culable misery it has caused “ from remote ages to the 
present day ” as among the “ saddest features of history ” ; 
and adds truly that “ the prevention and punishment of 
this crime are among the first duties of Government.” He 
quotes from the official Report on Money Lending issued 
by the British Government in June, 1898, instances of 
money being lent in England at an interest of anything 
between 60 per cent, and 3,000 per cent ! “ The law,” he 

continues, “ became a partner to outrageous injustice : for, 
except in the rare cases where illegal fraud could be proved, 
it inflicted no punishment on the usurers. . . . But in many 
countries besides our own the slackness or absence of usury 
laws gave such an impetus to similar misdeeds and ruined 
so many peasants in Europe and India [and Ireland], that 
the 19th century has been called the “ Century of Usury.” 2 

It is generally recognised that the “ Rapacious Usury ” 
of which Leo XIII speaks has been and still is, both in its 
naked form and “ under a different guise,” one of the radical 
causes of social misery in Ireland as elsewhere. Thus amid 
universal business depression, unemployment and poverty, 
the monied interests are allowed to control the distribution 
(ajid in a large measure the production) even of the neces- 
saries of life, making enormous profits to the injury or ruin 
of both producers and consumers . 3 

Mediaeval Attitude on Usury. — Such widespread abuse 
would not be possible in the mediasval times. Public 
opinion, formed under the guidance of the Church’s teaching, 
justly regarded usurers and unjust profiteers as the very 
worst of criminals. Dante, voicing the sentiments of his 
age, puts the usurers in the lowest division of his seventh 

1 Rerum Novarum, p. 134. 

2 Political Economy (3rd edit., 1920), pp. 415, 416. Cf. also Antoine, 
op. cit., pp. 601, 602. 

3 Cf. Shove — The Fairy Ring of Commerce (The Manchester Distributist 
League, 1930), chap, v and passim ; also Sanderson, loc. cit., where the 
writer refers to the fact that coal sold at the pit head at 20/6 per ton 
costs 50/- per ton to the consumers. 



circle in Hell, in company with the most degraded and un- 
natural sinners : 

“ And thence the inmost round marks with its seal 
Sodom and Cahors, 1 and all such as speak 
Contemptuously of the God-head in their hearts.” 

Christian teaching, as we have already seen, emphasises 
the dignity of manual toil and the duty of labour for all. 
It condemns idleness as unnatural and degrading and as 
opposed to the divine ordinance that men should employ 
their God-given energies in suitable labour. 2 This doctrine, 
which was then accepted as a fundamental principle of 
social life, would alone be sufficient to render the calling 
of the usurer dishonourable. The practice was besides 
definitely condemned on other grounds. 

The early Fathers protest against usury in the strongest 
terms ; and the Church always regarded it with disfavour. 3 
It had been forbidden to clerics since the 4th century and 
to lay people as well as clerics since the 9th. This pro- 
hibition was again and again enforced in the 12th century. 
Of the numerous ecclesiastical decrees on the subject we 
may mention those of the two General Councils of Lateran 
(1139 and 1179), in which the penalty of excommunication 
with denial of Christian burial was decreed against usurers ; 
and that of Gregory X, a century later, who ordained, in 
the Council of Lyons (1274), that no community, corporation 
or individual, should permit foreign usurers to hire houses, 
but should expel them from their territories. 

Church’s Discipline at Present Day. — We may note that 
although the Church’s prohibition of usury has been con- 
firmed again and again in modern times, especially by 
Benedict XIV in the Encyclical Vix Pervenit (1745), there 
has been a certain relaxation of the law since the early 
years of the 19th century. This apparently modified attitude 
of the Church is confirmed in the recently issued Code of 
Canon Law which, in dealing with the matter, reads as 
follows : 

“ If a commodity which is consumed by its first use (such as 
money, bread, etc.), be lent on the stipulation that it becomes 

1 A city of Guinne much frequented by usurers. 

2 Cf. Infra, chap, xvii, art i. 

3 Cf. Vermeersch, loo. cit., for a whole series of Patristic quotations on 
the subject. 



the property of the borrower, who is bound to return to the 
lender not the thing itself but its equivalent only, the lender may 
not receive any payment by reason of the loan itself. In the 
giving or lending of such a commodity, however, it is not in 
itself unlawful to make an arrangement for the recovery of 
interest at the rate allowed by the civil law (de lucro legali pacisci) 
unless that rate is clearly excessive : One may even arrange for 
a still higher rate of interest, if there be a just title for doing 
so, in proportion to the amount of the excess.” 1 

According to the terms of this Canon one may without 
enquiry or solicitude as to the existence or not of extrinsic 
titles (such as accidental loss caused by the loan, the risk 
of not being repaid, etc.) receive interest at the rate laid 
down by the civil law provided that rate be not clearly 
excessive. The reason for this change or apparent change 
in the Church’s attitude towards usury is that in modem 
times, owing to the capitalistic organisation of economic 
life, money has practically become a form of capital , 2 and 
the Church follows her traditional policy in regulating her 
attitude towards it. As usual she temporarily adjusts her 
discipline as far as possible to the needs of the age, even 
when these needs are the result of a state of things of which 
she does not approve, and allows the faithful to act in 
accordance with social customs sanctioned by existing civil 
law, provided these customs are not manifestly immoral or 
unjust. Hence, in the present instance she allows the 
faithful to avail within certain limits of the civil law and 
custom regarding usury and interest. We have already 
seen how in a similar manner, owing to the needs of society 
and to avoid greater evils, the Church permitted masters 
in the early years of Christianity to retain their slaves even 
though the institution of slavery is opposed to Christian 
principles . 3 

Catholic Teaching on Usury. — Usury in the mediaeval 
sense meant payment exacted for the use of borrowed 
money. The grounds for the Church’s condemnation of 
usury as essentially unjust are expounded by St. Thomas, 

1 Codex Juris Canonici, c. 1543. 

2 Vermeersch, loc. cit. 

3 Cf. Costa Rosetti, op. cit., pp. 772-786; also Belliot and Mackseyj 
loc. cit. 




whose teaching on the matter was universally adopted. 
Thus he writes : 

“ Money, like wine and wheat, is consumed by being used. 
Hence the use of the thing cannot be separated from the thing 
itself. Consequently he who, besides requiring back the thing 
[viz., the money lent], also exacts a price for its use, sells and 
gets paid for what does not exist, which is unjust.” 1 
It may be objected to tins argument that money, unlike 
- bread or wine, may be used as capital, and that capital is, 
with labour, an element of production. Thus a man who 
lends his macliinc or beast of burden to another in order 
that the latter may utilise it in productive labour, may 
lawfully require in payment a certain portion of the produce. 
In the same way, one who lends his money to another for 
capital, or trading purposes may fairly exact a share in 
the profits. This objection refers only to money borrowed 
for capital, and would not in any case affect the question 
of money borrowed in order to procure goods of consump- 
tion such as food or clothing. Even as regards the former 
kind of loan, St. Thomas does not admit the validity of 
the objection. His answer is : The machine or beast lent 
to another still remains the property of the lender, hence 
the element it contributes towards the produce is his. In 
the case of money it is different. When one borrows 
money even for capital, the dominion or ownership of the 
money is transferred to the borrower. This is shown by 
the fact that the borrower may consume (or destroy) the 
money (which he does by using it). 2 

Besides, should the money get accidentally lost or mislaid 
while in the borrower’s possession, the latter and not the 
lender is the sufferer. In the case of a borrowed instrument 
or animal, on the other hand, the borrower has no right to 
destroy the borrowed article seeing he is not its owner ; 
and should the article get lost or destroyed (when in Ms 
possession) through no fault of Ms, not he but the lender 
(viz., the owner of the article) suffers the loss. Hence, the 
element wMch the borrowed money contributes to production 
belongs not to the lender, who no longer is the owner of the 
money, but to the borrower, to whom the ownership has passed. 

1 2 a , 2 X , Q. 78, a. 1. For a fuller exposition of the argument, cf. Slater — 
Manual of Moral Theology, vol. i, pp. 513 fi. 

8 See ib., a. 2, ad 5 um f for St. Thomas' words, which the text summarises. 



Extraneous Titles to Interest on Money Lent. — Although 
usury, that is payment for the use of money, was unlawful, 
neither St. Thomas nor the other mediaeval writers deny 
that a certain modest payment may be exacted under 
other titles. If the lender suffered a positive loss by the 
loan, he might demand that the loss be recouped. If he 
himself would have utilised the money as capital had he 
retained possession of it, he might demand payment for 
the loss of opportunity he suffered by lending it . 1 If. 
finally. Iris lending endangered in any way the security 
of whole or part of the amount, he may justly charge such 
an interest as may be considered equal to the risk incurred. 
The lender, however, who would exact payment for the 
use of money beyond the moderate interest that may come 
under these headings was regarded as a usurer and fell 
under the penalties of the Church. 

Effects ol the Church’s Prohibition. — The Church’s legis- 
lation and teaching did not, it is true, succeed in completely 
preventing the practice of usury, especially on the part of 
the Jews. These laws and principles were, however, an 
immense check upon the unjust activities of money-lenders 
and speculators, so that anything approaching the syste- 
matised extortion and stock-gambling of modern times was 

Conclusion. — It is commonly admitted that the undue 
concentration of wealth under the control of a few is one 
of the radical causes of the social misery and unrest that 
prevail at the present day. Individuals controlling great 
wealth have excessive power in almost every phase of social 
activity, and, following the tendency of human nature, 
they too often use their power unjustly and tyrannically. 
Those huge fortunes are usually amassed by unjust profiteer- 
ing, artificially created monopolies, usury, unjust reduction 
of wages, the sudden fluctuations of the markets which play 
into the hands of greedy speculators. The mediaeval 
economic doctrines and legislation and the public opinion 
they produced and fostered made impossible, or at least 
kept in check, such methods of accumulating wealth, and 
so were a potent safeguard against one of the worst types 
of social injustice. 

1 lb., a. 2 ad 1™“ and a. 3. 



Introduction — Main Divisions ol the Population. — In order 
to appreciate better the beneficient influence of the Church 
on social welfare, it is desirable to know something of the 
actual condition of the people during the period in which 
her power was at its height. Hence, before leaving the 
subject we shall sketch in brief outline the main features 
of social conditions in Europe during the 12th and 13th 
centuries. The task is all the easier, as there existed at the 
time a considerable uniformity of social organisation, and 
much similarity in social conditions throughout most of 
Christendom. 1 

There were three main divisions of the population, namely, 
the feudal nobility, the agricultural class, principally though 
not entirely serfs or villeins, and the townspeople, who were 
practically all organised in guilds. Slaves were compara- 
tively few even in the 11th century, and slavery had prac- 
tically disappeared before the opening of the 13th. 2 The 
clergy and the religious of both sexes were drawn from all 
classes of the population. The clergy performed, in addition 
to their ecclesiastical duties, most of the functions of our 
present professional classes, although there was a certain 
number of lay professional men whose social status is not 
clearly defined. Besides these there were the Jewish traders 
and moneylenders, and a considerable number of the non- 
descript type, who do not require special treatment. With 
the rise of commerce after the 13th century traders of all 
kinds, as distinct from those that manufactured the goods 
they sold, became numerous, but during the period with 
which we are here principally concerned that class was not 
considerable. Hence, to obtain a general idea of the social 

1 The case of Ireland, which, stands apart, will be treated in Appendix I. 

* Palgrave, op. cit., art. “ Servus.” 

* 52 



conditions in mediaeval times we may confine our attention 
to the three main classes of the population, of each of which 
we shall now briefly treat. 

Art. 1 — The Feudal Nobility 1 

Their General Functions.— The feudal nobility, which 
comprised the ruling and military class, formed only a 
small fraction, possibly less than one-twentieth of the 
population. The feudal lords were, at least in legal theory, 
the sole owners of the land. From this they derived main- 
tenance and the means to meet their military expenses. 
They themselves, however, did not work on the soil. Their 
duties were those of administration and military defence. 
The productive work was carried on by the serfs and other 
agricultural classes, and by the free artisans of the towns, 
who were usually exempt from military duties. 

The feudal organisation which we find firmly established 
among the Franks in the 8th century, got more and more 
widely diffused owing to the needs of the time. Before the 
opening of the 12th century nearly all the territory of 
Christendom, not even excluding the ecclesiastical estates, 
were held in one way or another under the feudal system. 
The lords and their retainers, all mounted warriors and all 
of the feudal class, formed, as it were, the standing army 
of the nation. (The attendants and footmen who belonged 
to the non-feudal class were not regarded as warriore.) It 
was these mailed horsemen, and the impregnable walls of 
their castle fortresses, that saved Christendom against the 
fierce invaders of the 9th and 10th centuries : and at the 
same timo prevented domestic chaos. Feudalism declined 
after the 13th century according as the causes which pro- 
duced it ceased to exist. 

1 Cf. Betten and Kauflmann — Modern World (Boston, 1919), book i, 
sect, ii ; Letters on Social History (C. S. Guild), pp. 50-55 ; Ashley, op. cit., 
vol. i, part i, chap, i ; Robinson — Readings in European History, vol. i, 
chap, ix ; Bland, Brown and Tawney — English Economic History (Select 
Documents), secs, ii and iv ; Encyclopedia Brittanica — arts. “ Feudalism " 
and “ Knighthood and Chivalry ’’ ; Cath. Encyclo. — arts. “ Feudalism ” 
and “ Chivalry " ; K. Digby — Mores Catholici or Ages of Faith, vol. iii, 
chaps, vii-xii. 



Nature of the Feudal Organisation.- — The feudal organisa- 
tion, although containing an endless variety of peculiarities 
in different places, had certain fundamental characteristics 
which were the same everywhere. Among these are the 
following : — Every holder of land was, or was supposed 
to be, a tenant and vassal of a higher lord, at least till the 
highest rank was reached. To this lord he owed service 
and loyalty, while the lord owed him justice and protection. 

Hence in the theory of feudalism, even the kings held 
their dominions as fiefs from a higher suzerain. Some pro- 
fessed to hold from the Emperor, others from the Pope, 
while some acknowledged no supreme suzerain but God. 
The king parcelled out his dominions to his chief men, who 
held from him on conditions similar to those which existed 
between the king himself and the higher suzerain. The 
chief men in turn divided up their territory in the same 
way to sub-liegemen or vassals, whose relations to them 
corresponded with theirs to the king ; and so on through 
all the grades. 

The whole organisation may be compared to a cone with 
the king or the Emperor at the apex, and the body of the 
lowest vassals forming the base. These latter might have 
only a very limited extent of territory, sometimes not 
exceeding a modern good-sized farm. But all were classed 
as nobles or gentlemen and all enjoyed social equality. 

Rights and Duties of the Classes. — According to the common 
law recognised, at least in theory, throughout all Christen- 
dom, the conditions of the vassal’s tenure included not 
merely loyalty to his suzerain, but also loyalty to God, 
probity and honour in his dealings with others, and fidelity 
to what is just and right. Hence, should any vassal become 
disloyal or rule unjustly or wickedly, he would thereby 
forfeit his fief, which his suzerain might take from him and 
give to a worthier liegeman. Even an independent ruler, 
like the Emperor, or the King of France, who acknowledged 
no suzerain but God Himself, would, according to common 
law, forfeit his realm if he remained for a whole year under 
the ban of the Church. 

The privileges of the vassals and the services they ow r ed 
the lord varied indefinitely according to the size and im- 



portance of their fiefs. Some vassals had most of the rights 
of independent princes ; others were little more than simple 
soldiers. Of the vassal’s obligations towards his suzerain, 
the principal one was military service. He was bound to 
support his lord in the field, bringing with him for that 
purpose a specified contingent of fully-equipped warrior 
retainers in proportion to the extent of his fief. The vassals 
were bound, besides, to some other less important services, 
such as to act as jurors or judges in the lord’s court, to 
furnish aids in money at specified times, etc. 

The duties of justice and protection which the lord owed 
his vassal, and which then were very real and onerous, 
extended to all that lived on his lands, even to the serfs 
and other such dependents. 

Pagan and Christian Elements in the Feudal System. — - 

It is outside our scope to discuss the origin of feudalism, 
upon which there is a wide divergence of opinion. It is 
certain, however, that the clear-cut distinction of caste 
between the feudal landowners and the non-free or servile 
classes who worked as craftsmen or upon the soil, was 
wholly or in large part a survival of paganism. For accord- 
ing to the pagan ideals, which had prevailed equally among 
both the Roman and the Teutonic predecessors of the feudal 
warriors, servile or manual labour was inconsistent with 
the status of a freeman. 

On the other hand, the moral elements in the feudal 
organism, such as the inter-relation of reciprocal rights and 
duties, the ideas of responsibility attaching to ownership 
and power, the obligations of fidelity and probity as con- 
ditions of vassalage, all were the results of Christian teach- 
ing. The military features of the system were a natural 
product of the needs of the time. 

Critique of the Feudal Social System. — In estimating the 
character of feudal society and the relations of the feudal 
barons to one another and to their servile dependents one 
should bear in mind that even in the 12th century, Europe 
as a whole had only just emerged from a state of barbarism, 
social development having been arrested by the wars and 
partial chaos of the 9th and 10th centuries. Customs and 
principles inherited from Roman imperialism and Teutonic 



military ideals were not yet extinct. Again the continual 
invasions and shocks from without which retarded for a 
long time the normal development of the nations into fully 
organised political units, were frequently a source of much 
misery and disorder. Still, notwithstanding many defects 
and limitations, feudal society under Christian influence 
and the whole social organisation that was formed upon 
it had many advantages and, taken all in all, probably came 
nearer, at least in the 13th century, to an ideal State than 
anything that continental Europe had seen before, or has 
experienced since. 

Prevalence of the Christian Spirit. — To begin with, the 
ruling classes frankly accepted Christian principles. Pride, 
avarice and sensuality were of course there, and cruelty 
and injustice were not unknown. But on the other hand, 
wondrous manifestations constantly appear of Christian 
humility, heroic self-sacrifice and charity which went far to 
counteract the results of human passion. Even the men 
whom ambition and uncontrolled anger betray into acts 
of cruelty [or] tyranny are constantly seen to repent and 
make reparation for the injustice done. The ministers of 
the Church exerted immense influence which was a constant 
check upon the absolutism of the feudal lords. We are 
familiar with the history of St. Bernard who, though a 
simple monk, was in his day probably the most powerful 
influence in European politics. Gregory VII by the exercise 
of his spiritual prerogatives compelled the submission of 
Henry IV of Germany (then the most powerful monarch 
in Europe), although the latter probably had little faith 
and less sense of conscience. The same is true of the dispute 
between Innocent III and King John of England, as well 
as that between Innocent III and Philip the Fair of France. 

Social Justice Substantially Secured. -The ownership of 
the land and other privileges appertaining to the feudal class 
carried with them real duties and onerous responsibilities. 
In fact these rights and privileges rested essentially on the 
idea and obligation of service. They were allowed or 
granted not for the comfort or enjoyment of the person 
possessing them, but in order to enable him to perform the 
public services to which he was bound. The duties of 



vassal and suzerain rested upon definite legal relations 
which bound both parties equally. To break the feudal 
bond was dishonour as well as felony. A great respect for 
law and justice as well as a wholesome spirit of true liberty 
and independence were thus developed. No overlord could 
venture to act arrogantly or unjustly with his vassal ; for 
the latter stood upon his rights as a freeman. In the same 
way, though to a less extent, the relations between the lord 
and his serfs were regulated by definite laws founded upon 
immemorial custom. 

The heavy expenses attaching to the lord’s military duties, 
which were essential to the safety of the community, could 
not be met except through the productive labour of the 
serf. The lord’s own life was laborious and simple. Extreme 
luxury and wealth, such as prevailed among the pre- 
Christian Roman aristocracy or the plutocracy of modem 
times, were then unknown. We see this exemplified in the 
feudal castles which were manifestly built not for luxury 
and comfort, but for protection — affording a strong contrast 
with the palatial manor-house of the post-Reformation 

Besides, the barriers between the noble and servile classes 
were not altogether insuperable. Even a serf could by 
notable merit rise to the rank of the nobility. Add to this 
that the highest offices in the Church were always open to 
men of every rank ; and the Christian principles of charity, 
brotherhood and personal equality were then very living 
and real forces securing a large measure of real union 
among all. 

Land Fairly Well Distributed. — Again, the feudal system 
secured a tolerably fair distribution of the land and made 
impossible the concentration of uncultivated ranches in the 
hands of wealthy owners, which is one of the worst abuses 
of the modem land system. Every territorial lord had to 
furnish a number of warriors proportioned to the extent 
of the lands he held. These he procured by making grants 
of land within his domain to a sufficient number of vassals. 
If the fiefs or holdings were too large, the requisite number 
of warriors could not be supplied. In the same way it was 
necessary for each feudal lord to have on his estate a 
sufficient number of labourers, for a manor was practically 



self-contained, in which everything the community needed 
had to be provided. And as the wage system was then 
unknown, at least for agricultural workers, the lord secured 
the needed workers by retaining a large body of agricultural 
labourers who, besides owning and working each his own 
cottier farm, did their share in cultivating the domain lands 
of the lord of the soil. 

Horrors of War Moderated. — Finally, although the horrors 
of war were not unknown, war in those ages had redeeming 
features which religious faith and practice gave. In the 
first place, the only recognised motives of engaging in war 
were those of religion or justice. The modern Machiavellian 
principles of political expediency were still publicly repro- 
bated ; and although hypocrisy and ambition did of course 
exist, the buccaneer type of military adventurer, devoid of 
religion and conscience, which we meet in the 16th and 17th 
centuries was then practically unknown. The awful trade 
wars of those and of later times were scarcely possible with 
the public opinion which then reigned in Christendom. 

Order of Chivalry. — The influence of Christian principles 
over warring princes and even over freebooters is well 
illustrated by the institution of Chivalry as a kind of religious 
brotherhood, and by the Truce of God. The institution of 
Chivalry was one of the principal methods adopted by the 
Church to humanise the fierce Teutonic warriors and fashion 
their principles and habits to the requirements of justice 
and charity. A feudal soldier was not regarded as a fully- 
approved warrior till he was formally received into the 
ranks of knighthood. The knighthood was the great object 
of every young soldier’s ambition. Although the privilege 
was normally confined to men of the feudal caste, individuals 
of a lower degree were not unfrequently raised to the knight- 
hood, and thereby to the ranks of the nobility, as a reward 
for outstanding merit. 

The knights formed a kind of religious brotherhood. A 
worthy knight, according to the ideals then taught, must 
show proof not merely of military prowess, but also of 
loyalty, Christian courtesy, charity and kindness to the 
weak. The Church shared in the ceremonial of conferring 
knighthood and thus gave its blessing to the warlike pro- 



fession, when carried on in the spirit which the knightly 
character symbolised. The aspirant to knighthood prepared 
beforehand by Confession, Holy Communion, fasting, a vigil 
of prayer, and a symbolical bath to remind him of the purity 
of soul he should always preserve. 

At his installation he bound himself by vow to use his 
weapons chiefly in defence of religion and for the protection 
of the weak and defenceless, especially women and orphans. 
In the ceremonial he was invested with a white robe to 
impress on him the need of keeping his conscience pure. 
The priest presented him with his knightly equipment and 
weapons one by one to the accompaniment of liturgical 

All this illustrates the tendency of mediaeval chivalry. 
Christian courtesy and kindness to all, truthfulness, honour 
and uprightness in social relations, justice and fair play 
even in dealing with an enemy, fearless self-sacrifice, were 
held up as the characteristics of the true Christian knight, 
battling for right and justice, with the blessing and under 
the sanction of the Church. The ideal, of course, was not 
often realised in its fulness, but the fact that multitudes, 
perhaps the majority, aspired towards it, must Have had a 
profound effect upon the manners and character of the 
men and women of the time. 

The Crusades.- — The nature and ideals of Christian chivalry 
are perhaps illustrated most strikingly in the history of the 
Crusades. These wars were inspired by religious zeal. 
Notwithstanding the lamentable incidents by wdiich their 
history is sometimes disfigured, and the individual cases of 
selfish ambition or foolish vanity which are met with all 
too frequently, it still remains true that the driving force 
behind the Crusades was the loftiest and purest idealism. 
Love of the Redeemer and the desire to rescue from the 
power of the unbeliever the places which had been con- 
secrated by association with Him were the main forces that 
succeeded more than once in mobilising, amid the greatest 
religious enthusiasm, nearly the whole military resources 
of Europe against the enemies of the Church. 

Godfrey of Bouillon, Bertrand of Guescelin, Tanered of 
Normandy, Richard Cceur de Lion and St. Louis were all 
real types, though, of course, types of the best kind. The 



age that produced men of that character in their thousands 
and tens of thousands amid all the violence of war ; and the 
social and military ideals that could make it possible for 
a young man of the lofty character and high principles of 
Francis of Assisi to seek after Christian perfection in the 
profession of arms, are something unique in the chequered 
history of Europe. It is from the Christian ideal of the 
true knight that the warlike profession still borrows what- 
ever lustre is attached to it. The chivalry and mercy and 
sense of honour still often displayed amid the horrors of 
modern warfare are echoes of the principles and ideals of 
the rough warriors of mediaeval Europe. 

The Truce of God. — The Truce of God and the obligations 
of the Peace of God illustrate the same theme. The legis- 
lation of the Peace of God began long before the period of 
which we are treating. By this law persons dedicated to 
God (such as clerics, monks, and nuns), as well as churches, 
cemeteries and other consecrated places, were privileged 
and regarded as sacrosanct and inviolable at all times, under 
penalty of excommunication. It was also forbidden by 
the same law and under the same sanction to carry on 
warlike operations on Sundays and holydays. The pro- 
tection of the Peace of God was gradually extended to 
pilgrims, to crusaders, and even to merchants on a journey ; 
and the obligation was ordinarily observed. 

The Truce of God took its rise early in the 11th century 
amid an epidemic of private wars. It was the remedy put 
forward by the Church against the lawlessness, violence and 
private revenge which the lay authorities were unable to 
prevent. Certain days in every week, namely, from Wednes- 
day evening till Monday morning, and long periods of the 
year, roughly corresponding to Lent, Advent, and the 
Paschal season, were by ecclesiastical law privileged or 
sacrosanct, so that no act of violent aggression, on the part 
either of private individuals or public authority, whether 
justifiable or not in itself, was lawful during these periods. 

“ Although,” says Balmes, “ the Truce was apparently only 
a testimony of respect paid to religion by the violent passions 
which in her favour consented to suspend hostilities, it was really 
a triumph of right over might, and one of the most admirable 



devices ever used to improve the manners of a barbarous people. 
The man who for four days of the week, and during long periods 
of the year was compelled to suspend the exercise of force was 
necessarily led to more gentle manners : he must in the end 
completely renounce it.” 1 

The truce of God was universally enforced and substantially 
observed during the period of the Crusades. 

Art. 2 — The Agricultural Glass 2 

Serfdom. — Prior to the rise of the towns the great bulk 
of the people of mediteval Europe (with the exception of 
a few small nations such as the Irish and the Basques) were 
agricultural serfs. As already stated, slavery had almost 
disappeared before the end of the 10th century and had 
given way to serfdom. Serfdom implies a condition inter- 
mediary between slavery and freedom ; and according to 
the different customs of various countries, and the varying 
grades of serfs in the same country, or the same manor, 
it approached more nearly to one extreme or the other. 3 

Its Origin. — As to the origin of serfdom, all agree that 
in France, Spain, and to a lesser extent in Britain, it de- 
veloped from Roman slavery. 4 The gangs of rural slaves 
that cultivated the lands of the old Roman villas gradually 
acquired privileges and rights owing to the influence of 

1 Op. cit., p. 150, 

a Cf. Brownlow, op. cit. ; Allard — Origines du Servage en France, and 
Esclaves, Serfs et Mainmortables ; Seebohm — English Village Community, 
chaps, i, ii, iii, vi, vii ; Fustel de Coulanges — Origin of Property in Land, 
translated from the original French by Mrs. Ashley (4th edit., Allen and 
Unwin, London, 1927) ; Ashley — English Economic History, vol. i, chap, i ; 
Belloc — The Servile State ; Bland, Brown and l'awney — English Economic 
History and Theory (Select Documents), part i, sec. iv ; Robinson — 
Readings in European History, vol. i, chap, xviii, nn. 157-160 ; Husslein- — ■ 
Democratic Industry, chaps, v to x ; Palgrave — Diet, of Political Economy, 
arts. “ Serf," “ Services Predial and Military,” “ Servus " and “ Villanus.” 
Lecky — History of European Morals, vol. ii, pp. 61-72 ; Hallam- — Middle 
Ages, vol. i, chap, ii ; Cath. Encyclop. — arts. “ Labour and Labour Legis- 
lation” (pp. 720-722) ; “ Slavery,” “ Land Tenure.” Diet. Apolog. de la 
Foi Cath. — arts. " Esclavage " and “ Droit de Seigneur.” K. Digby — Mores 
Catholici or Ages of Faith, vols. i and ii. 

“The term serf is merely a variant of the Latin word servus, slave. 
The alternative term villein comes from the Latin villanus, belonging to 
the villa or manor. 

* Cf. Allard, op. cit. 



Christian practice and teaching, and thus in course of time 
attained a status which was far superior to anything that 
could be properly termed slavery. 

Whether the same process of development took place 
among the Teutonic nations is disputed. One school 
of historians put forward an opposite theory. They say 
that the earlier Teutonic communities held lands in common 
according to what these historians call the German “ marc ” 
system. In this system the cultivators were free-men and 
had from time immemorial certain indefeasible rights in 
the soil. Dining the centuries of continual wars, however, 
these free cultivators lost their privileges and fell almost 
completely under the control of the military chiefs. As 
a result, their position got assimilated after a time to that 
of the quasi-servile agricultural population on the Roman 

This theory, which is put forward by the German scholars, 
is rejected by Fustel de Coulanges 1 and other French 
historians and by some modern English writers, especially 
by Seebohm , 2 Ashley , 3 and Belloc . 4 These hold that 
mediaeval serfdom in all countries was, in the main, a 
development of earlier slavery . 5 It is very improbable 
and contrary to the ordinary course of development, as 
known from uncontroverted history, that the state of any 
large section of the community should in Christian times 
deteriorate from freedom to partial slavery. It is true 
indeed that many free landowners, anxious to secure the 
protection of feudal chiefs during the centuries of turmoil, 
did here and there, under pressure of necessity, accept con- 
ditions which practically reduced them to the position of 
serfs. But that this occurred in the case of a large per- 
centage of the population is very improbable. Hence it 
seems more likely that the vast bulk of the mediaeval serfs 

1 Op. cit. In this classical work the writer seems to prove conclusively 
that there is no solid historical foundation for the German theory pro- 
pounded by Mourer, Waitz, Brunner and others according to which the 
primitive Teutonic agricultural workers were freemen who owned the 
soil on a system of village communism. Cf. also Ryan — Distributive 
Justice, chap. ii. 

2 Op. cit., chap. ix. 

3 Cf. loc. cit., pp. 13 ff and the Introduction to the work of Coulanges 
just referred to. 

4 Cf. Catholic Encyclopedia — arts. " Feudalism " and “ Land Tenure. 

B Cf. Brownlow, op. cit., and the Month, 1891, pp. 537, 538. 



of all European countries were the descendants of rural 

The Mediaeval Manor. — Whatever theory ono holds as 
to the origin and development of serfdom in the various 
countries of Europe, the main facts which alone directly 
concern us are certain. More than three-fourths of the 
whole population of feudal Europe in the 11th century were 
serfs. Almost all the territory was divided out into large 
manors or villas, varying in extent, each ruled by a feudal 
lord. The lord dwelt in the baronial castle and was sup- 
ported by the labour of the serfs, whose dwellings were 
usually gathered together in a village on the manor lands. 
These latter w’ere partly domain lands, in the immediate 
ownership ( dominium ) of the lord himself, partly allotments 
held and cultivated by the serfs. 

The amount held by each serf varied in different manors, 
or in accordance with the hereditary grade of the holder. 
In Britain the average amount was about thirty statute 
acres. Each holding consisted of numerous strips scattered 
about the great open fields of the manor, intermingled with 
the strips of the other serfs and of the lord himself. 1 Of 
the whole manor land, the domain land usually amounted 
to about one-third or two-fifths, while the remaining two- 
thirds or three-fifths were held in villeinage by the serfs. 
Besides the divided lands there were usually some pasture 
and forest and different lands of waste lands shared in 
common by all. 

Obligations of the Serf. — The serf “ was bound to the soil.” 
He could not, without the lord’s consent, migrate from the 
land he cultivated. Neither could he marry — at least he 
could not take a wife from outside the manor — without 
the lord’s consent. Further, he usually could not, in default 
of direct heirs, dispose of his property at his death. It 
passed to the lord. The serf’s rent was paid partly in kind 
and partly in personal services. Principal among the latter 
was a certain number of days’ work on the domain- — usually 
two or three in the week, with additional days at special 
seasons, such as ploughing time and harvest. 2 The rent 

1 For a minute description of a manor, cf. Robinson, op. cit., pp. 399-405. 

®Cf. Palgrave, op. cit., " Services.” 


paid in kind was sometimes fairly considerable ; not in- 
frequently it was merely nominal, such as a few eggs at 
Easter time. All the produce of the domain lands belonged 
to the lord, though a daily wage in kind was allowed to the 
serf for his days of service. In many cases the lord had 
claims also to what was called the “ heriot.” This was a 
certain portion of the serf’s property, such as the best 
animal or the best implement on the farm, which had to be 
handed over to the lord at the serf’s decease before his son 
succeeded to the holding. 

Seeing that the mediaeval manor was almost wholly self- 
contained, everything needed being produced on the estate, 
the serf population included, besides the ordinary agri- 
cultural workers, artisans in all the necessary crafts. Each 
of these had certain specified duties and clearly-defined 
rights, all of which were determined by immemorial custom. 

His Rights and Privileges. — Hence, even though the serf 
was in legal theory a slave, his actual position and privileges 
were far removed from those of slavery. All his essential 
family rights were secure. Given that the due services 
were fulfilled, he was his own master, and, within the 
limitations already implied, he was complete owner of his 
own farm and of whatever other property he might acquire. 
“ The serf of the early Middle Ages,” writes H. Belloc, “ of 
the 11th and early 12th centuries, of the Crusades and the 
Norman Conquest, is already nearly a peasant. ... It is 
easy and common for the members of the serf class to enter 
the professions and the Church or to go wild, to become 
men practically free in the growing industries of the towns.” 1 

The rent or the services due to the lord could not be 
increased by the latter with the increased value of the 
holding, even though the enhanced value was in no way 
due to the serf’s labour. Besides all this, the serf’s right 
to the lands he held was indefeasible. He could not be 
evicted ; nor could his land or his working capital be dis- 
trained for debt. In addition to his land he had several 
very important claims on the communal lands of the manor, 
such as free grazing rights, forest rights, fishing rights, 
turbary rights, the use of waterways, of water-power, etc. 

Op. at., p. 47 . 



All these rights and the amount of each serf’s and of the 
lord’s own participation in them were regulated minutely 
by custom, and could not be altered by the lord. Hence, 
although in legal fiction the lord was considered the owner 
of the whole manor and of all the property upon it, his 
rights were in practice strictly limited ; and he was com- 
pelled to respect the privileges even of the lowest serf of 
the manor. 

The Gradual Improvement of his Status. — The serfs 
on the immense ecclesiastical estates were treated with 
peculiar liberality in the matter of rights and services. 
This fact gradually influenced the status of the whole 
serf population ; so that for this reason and owing to 
the general tendency of Christian influence in favour of 
the poorer classes, the position of the serfs continued to 
improve steadily as long as the Church’s influence prevailed. 
“ With every passing generation,” again writes Belloc, 
“ the ancient servile conception o' the labourer’s status 
grows more and more dim, and the courts and the practice 
of society treat him more and more as a man strictly bound 
to certain dues and certain periodical labour within his 
industrial unit, hut in all other respects free. As the 
civilisation of the Middle Ages develops .... the character 
of freedom becomes more marked.” 1 

The French Companies.' — A very interesting type of serf 
and peasant organisation, which was fairly common in 
parts of Europe, notably in France, during the Middle Ages, 
and which persevered in some places even to the 18th 
century, was that of Companies (copani). A certain number 
of serfs, not necessarily of the same kindred, formed a group 
or corporation, holding and tilling their lands in common. 
They also held in common much of the movable property 
on the land, such as the cattle, implements of agriculture, etc. 
They shared in common the services due to the lord, and 
supported themselves and their families from the common 
store of produce. 2 Besides the rights in the communal 

1 Op. cit., pp. 47, 48. 

2 Hence the name Company ( panis , bread ; cum, together) , which 
etymologically means sharers in a common board. 




property each one also had or could have his own private 
property. This consisted of the property he possessed 
before joining the association, and the personal gains that 
accrued to him later. Each, too, retained his independent 
responsibility for his own family. The association had a 
chief, usually elected, who was the head of the corporative 
administration. The chief regulated the laws of purchase 
and sale ; and decided each family’s proper share in the 
common profits. 

Among the many advantages of such corporate association 
was the obvious one that since a corporation does not die 
with the death of individual members, there is no danger of 
the lands held by these associated fraternities reverting to 
the lord in case of the failure of male heirs, nor was there 
any liability to the payment of the heriot. From many 
indications it is clear that these rural associations were 
amongst the most prosperous of the French peasant com- 
munities down to the 17th and 18tb centuries. 1 

General Estimate of the Serf’s Social Condition. — The 

mediaeval serf enjoyed all his essential human rights ; and 
the more serious of the disabilities which he inherited from 
previous generations were gradually ameliorated under the 
Church’s influence. In matters of security and provision 
for all essential needs he was far better off than the modern 
unprotected agricultural labourer or industrial employee. 
In contrast with the latter the serf had definite claims on 
the protection of the lord whose own interests were closely 
bound up with those of his serfs. He had his permanent 
home and farm from which he could not be evicted. The 
services toward the lord to which he was bound were prob- 
ably much lighter than the rents exacted from very many 
free tenants in modern times, and could not be compared 
with the rents and services imposed upon the Irish peasants 
from the 17th to the 19th centuries. “ The villeins,” writes 
Ashley, “ -were indeed tied to the soil, but the soil was also 

1 Cf. Allard — Esclaves, Serfs , et Mainmor tables, chap. xvii. The organ- 
isation of these co-operative communities reminds one of the interesting 
and partly successful experiment in rural communal organisation which 
was made in Co. Clare, Ireland, in the early half of the 19th century. 
Cf. Connolly — Labour in Ireland, chap, xi, and An Irish Commune: History 
of Ralahine (Dublin, 1917). 



tied to them. No very great accession of wealth was possible 
to them, but, on the other hand, they always had land upon 
which they could live — -and live, except in very occasional 
seasons of famine, in rude plenty.” 1 

Besides all this the mediaeval serf lived amid all the con- 
solations of an intensely religious society. If for anj r reason 
poverty or misfortune came his way, religious institutions 
of all kinds were within reach where help and consolation 
could be found. 2 “ Was it not better,” writes K. Digby, 
“to be one of the people then than to be so now in the 
19th century [propertyless, unprotected and isolated] . . . 
The serf held to something. A moral tie attached him to 
the family of his master, to the castle whose old towers 
protected him as they had protected his fathers ; to the 
church at whose door he had assumed all the dignity of a 
man and of a Christian, and which offered him an inviolable 
asylum against the powers of the world. Around him all 
was animated. His habits, his labours, his privations, his 
perils were all connected with ideas in which he had faith 
and for which he would have gladly died. . . . There was 
then a unity of feeling, and even of taste, and a community 
of enjoyments among the high and the low.” 3 

Abolition of Serfdom.- — We cannot follow in detail the 
history of the improvements which took place in Catholic 
times in the position of serfs, and shall cite only a few of the 
outstanding facts connected with the principal countries 
of Europe. In England under Edward I, in the second 
half of the 13th century, most of the serfs, who at the time 
of the Domesday Survey of 1086 comprised nearly four- 
fifths of the whole recorded population, 4 got the privilege 

1 CL Ashley, op. cit., pp. 17 and 53. 

- Mores Catholici, vol. i, chap, ii, p. 25. 

3 Op. cit., chap, i, p. 40. For proof and illustration of the same theme, 
cf. Thorold Roger’s Six Centuries of Work and Wages, chap, ii (15th edit., 
Fisher Unwin, London, 1923). 

4 Cf. Louis Veuillot — Le Droit de Seigneur du Moyen Age (Paris, 1878), 
for an examination and refutation of calumnies concerning certain sup- 
posed mediaeval customs and fabulous seignorial rights enjoyed by feudal 
lords. These legends, which have their origin in anti-Catholic propaganda 
in England and France in the 17th and following centuries, still find some 
credence in these countries. Thus Canon Sheehan in “The Queen’s Fillet " 
utilises the legend of the French peasant compelled to spend the night in 
a lake or pond to prevent the frogs croaking lest the lord’s sleep be dis- 
turbed. Cf. also Diet. Apol. de la Foi Catholique — art. " Droit du Seigneur.” 



of commuting for a yearly money payment the most burden- 
some of their personal services to the lords. In the 14th 
century their condition was still further improved. Serfdom 
had practically disappeared from England before the 
16th century. Of the Church’s share in this transformation 
Macaulay writes : “ Moral causes noiselessly effaced first 
the distinction between Norman and Saxon, and then the 
distinction between master and slave. It would be unjust 
not to acknowledge that the chief agent in these two great 
deliverances, the greatest and most salutary social revo- 
lutions that have taken place in England, was religion. . . . 
The benevolent spirit of the Christian morality is un- 
doubtedly adverse to distinctions of caste. But to the 
Church of Rome such distinctions are peculiarly odious.” 1 

In France serfdom was first abolished in Normandy and 
the other Northern provinces. In these it had mostly 
disappeared in the 12th century. The main emancipation 
was effected over the whole country before the beginning 
of the 14th century. The feudal rents, however, and some 
other payments to which the peasants were still bound, as 
well as a certain amount of obligatory labour on the roads, 
continued on to the period of the Revolution (1789). In 
Italy and the portion of the Spanish Peninsula that had 
been reconquered from the Moors, the process of liberating 
the serfs, wliich began in the 10th century, w'as practically 
completed before the beginning of the 15th century. In 
none of these countries wuts serfdom afterwards re-established. 

Serfdom Under Non-Catholic Influences. — In Germany, 
on the other hand, as w r cll as in Denmark and Sweden, the 
movement of enfranchisement, which had commenced some- 
what later than in the Latin countries but was nearing 
completion before the rise of Protestantism, was checked 
in the 16th century, so that in the end of the century the 
position of the serfs was worse than before. This deteriora- 
tion was the result of the Peasants’ Revolt and of the 

1 History of England, vol. i, chap, i, pp. 22, 23. The statement of 
Hallam, who is followed by Lccky and other non-Catholic writers, that 
the liberation of the serfs on the Church lands was the last to be brought 
about and was opposed to Church law, is contrary to fact. Thus in the 
German States, the serfs oil the ecclesiastical estates were the first to be 
enfranchised. Cf. Diet, de la Eoi Gatholique — art. “ Esclavage,” v. 2 0 . 



new spirit introduced by Protestantism. 1 Serfdom was not 
finally abolished in Baden till 1783, nor in Prussia till 1809. 
It lingered on in Saxony and some other parts of Protestant 
Germany till 1832 or later, and in Denmark till 1804. 

Serfdom continued longest of all in Russia. There the 
small farmers and other free peasants got gradually identified 
with the slaves, and all formed one cla s of serfs. From 
these the Tzar, Boris Gondulf (1598-1605), took away the 
right of migration. The position of the serfs once tied to 
the soil got gradually worse. They lost the right even of 
permanent homes ; and the power of the owner to sell them 
apart from the land became recognised late in the 17th 
century. A peasant revolt was suppressed ; and it was not 
till after the Crimean war (1856) that a real movement of 
emancipation began, which ended in the final abolition of 
serfdom in 1861. 2 3 

Conclusion.- — The history of slavery and serfdom, and the 
gradual process of emancipation, which took place under 
Christian guidance, point unmistakably to the conclusion 
that the influence of the Catholic Church in every country 
tends strongly towards the freedom and w'ell-being of the 
weaker members of the community. When that influence 
is withdrawn, the general trend of development inclines in 
the opposite direction. 

Art. 3 — The Industrial Workers* 

Origin and Development of the Mediaeval Cities.- — Most 
of the old Roman towns suffered eclipse or were totally 
destroyed during the barbarian invasions. Hence between 
the 5th and the 10th centuries there was comparatively 
little town life in Europe. The early history of the great 

l Cf. Diet, de la Foi Calholique, loc. cit., p. 1504 ; and Brownlow, loc. cit., 
pp. 540-545. 

2 Cf. Walsh, S.J. — The Fall of the Russian Empire, chap, ii (The Blue 
Ribbon Books, New York, 7th edit., 1931), 

3 Cf. Husslein — Democratic Industry, chaps, ix-xxiii ; Pastor — History 
of the Popes, vol. v, pp. 52 fl ; Gasquct — Eve of the Reformation, chap, xi ; 
Ashley — English Economic History, vol. i, part i, chap, ii, and part ii, 
chaps, i and ii ; Bland, Brown, and Tawney — English Economic History 
(Select Documents), part i, secs, v and vi ; Robinson — Readings in 
European History , vol. i, chap, xviii, nn. 161-165; Historical and Municipal 
Documents, Ireland, n 72-1320 (Rolls Series) ; Martin-Saint-Leon — • 



mediaeval towns, most of which rose into prominence after 
the 11th century, is involved in obscurity. Some, especially 
in Italy and Germany, could trace their history back to 
the times of the early Roman Empire. Most, however, date 
only from the mediaeval epoch. Of these many owed their 
origin to the monasteries which gradually became centres 
of population, or to the great Christian shrines which 
attracted ever-increasing crowds of pilgrims. Some resulted 
from the coalescence of several villages in a populous 
district. Others, again, developed from the forts erected 
by the military chiefs, round which families originally 
gathered for protection and safety. Not a few, especially 
in Italy and Northern Europe, grew up in the 10th and 11th 
centuries as centres of oversea trade, as did the Irish cities 
of Galway, Dublin and Limerick four centuries later. 

For a long time agriculture must have been the main 
occupation of the inhabitants of the towns, who were still 
mostly in the position of serfs, under the neighbouring 
feudal chiefs. Agricultural produce was the principal or 
the only commodity of local trade. For this purpose 
markets were established under the protection of the lord. 
As time went on foreign traders began to bring their wares 
to these markets to be exchanged with the people of the 
neighbourhood for local produce. Heavy tolls were exacted 
by the feudal lords in return for their protection, and in 
virtue of their claims as lords of the soil. 

As the towns and villages grew in size and importance 
and the inhabitants became better organised, they found 
the interference of the feudal lords burdensome ; and a 
movement for emancipation arose. In the 12th century 
this movement began to spread throughout all the countries 
of Europe. In some places the burghers openly revolted 

Histoire des Corporations ; Madame Sabatier — L’Egiise el le Travail Manuel ; 
Levasseur — Histoire des Classes Ouvri&res en France ; Janssen — History of 
the German People at the Close of the Middle Ages (Mitchell's translation), 
Bookiii, chaps, ii and iii ; Letters on Social History (C. S. Guild), pp. 39-79 ; 
Walsh, op. cit., chaps, xxi and xxiv ; Cath. Encyclop., chap, vii, pp. 66-72 — 
art. " Guilds ” ; Encyclop. Britt., vol. vii, p. 784 — art. " Commune 
(Mediaeval) ” ; Brown — The Achievement of the Middle Ages, chap.p. 141 ff ; 
Shields — The Evolution of Industrial Organisation (London, 1931, 2nd edit.), 
chap. i. Some English non-Catholic writers usually minimise or altogether 
ignore the essential part played by the Church in the organisation and 
working ol the guilds. 



against the authority of the feudal rulers. As a result 
charters of liberty were granted, sometimes by the lord of 
the soil, sometimes by the king or Emperor. The charter, 
which was a kind of written contract between the lord or 
prince, on the one hand, and the commune or town mer- 
chants’ organisation, on the other, served as a kind of legal 
certificate of the birth of the town, more or less defining its 
independent constitution. 1 The charters usually compre- 
hended all dwelling within the precincts of the town, so 
that if a serf had for any reason lived in the town for a 
specified time- — usually about a year — he became by that 
fact freed from the lord’s control. 

Origin ol the Guilds.— The history of the social conditions 
of the townspeople centres round the associations or guilds 
in which they were organised. Even earlier than the 
period with which we are dealing, and long before the issue 
of town charters, there existed in the villages what were 
called Peace Associations or Frith Guilds A The object of 
these associations was to maintain the public peace and 
to safeguard the person, property, and reputation of the 
members, for in those days the power of the governing 
authority, whether baron, tribal chief, or king, was usually 
quite insufficient for these purposes. 

The religious element, however, had also a very prominent 
place among the activities of the Frith Guilds. Thus, pro- 
vision was usually made in the guild regulations for the 
giving of alms by each individual of the association, for 
the celebration of Masses in aid of the soul of a lately 
deceased member ; for assisting and entertaining pious 
pilgrims, etc. These characteristics re-appear in the great 
Merchant and Craft Guilds that arose in the 12th century, 
with which we are principally concerned here. 

With the rise of the great Merchant Guilds the history 
of urban life in the Middle Ages really begins. As to the 
origin of these great free associations historians are not in 
agreement. Some historians regard them as developments 
of the Frith Guilds. Others trace them back to the trade 
unions of ancient Rome (Collegia Opificum). Others, again, 

1 Cf. Robinson, loo. cit., nn. 161-163 ; also Bland, Brown and Tawney, 
loc. cit. 

8 Cf. Husslein, op. cit., chaps, ix and x. 



derive them from the East. Many writers, however, with 
perhaps more probability, seek no other explanation of their 
origin than Christian influence and teaching as applied to 
the circumstances of mediaeval society. These hold as at 
least very probable that the whole guild organisation 
developed from the religious confraternities, which were 
directly organised by the Church. Whatever theory one 
may adopt as to the origin of the mediaeval guilds, there 
can be no doubt that it was the Church that impressed 
upon them those marvellous Christian characteristics which 
essentially distinguish them from every similar organisation 
known to history. 

Their Essentially Christian and Democratic Character. — 

The Lime des Metiers of Etienne Boileau, Provost of Paris 
in the reign of St. Louis of France (d. 1245), and the 
numerous records of English and German mediaeval town 
life, including the charters of several guilds, reveal to 
us the structure and character of the guild organisation. 
Of that organisation an outstanding characteristic was the 
spirit of true Christian democracy that permeated it through 
and through. Here we find the highest conception of the 
dignity of labour and the nearest approach hitherto made 
to real democratic control of industry. 

From these guilds developed the whole municipal organisa- 
tion of the mediaeval towns. Some of these towns, such 
as the great cities of Northern Italy, grew into independent 
republics ; while others, as in Flanders and Northern 
Germany, became free cities with practical independence. 
Furthermore, in most European countries it was through 
the municipal communes which developed from the guilds 
that the people were first represented in the national 

The Merchant Guilds. — The mediaeval guilds were of two 
types — viz., the Merchant Guild (or the “ Guild Merchant ” 
as it was sometimes called) and the Craft Guild. The 
Merchant Guild belonged to the earlier period, and attained 
its highest development in England in the 12th century. 
It was a union of the original townspeople more or less 
emancipated from the control of the feudal lord and owning 
some property within the town area. It was by means of 


those unions that the burghers in the earlier stages of town 
development wrested their full emancipation from the feudal 
lords ; and then organised themselves for urban govern- 
ment and administration. 

The Merchant Guild was in its original conception a labour 
union, for in those days every “ merchant ” was a craftsman 
who manufactured his own wares and sold directly to the 
consumer. In the guild all the town craftsmen, including 
at first practically all the inhabitants, were banded together 
for the common good. The principal objects of their union 
were to safeguard their privileges, to secure that no stranger 
should interfere with local trade nor any individual among 
themselves monopolise more than his fair share. Mutual 
assistance in almost all the details of life entered into the 
objects of the guild. Above all it was confessedly organised 
upon a religious basis and religious principles dominated 
all its activities. 1 

The Craft Guilds. — As the towns grew and trade and 
commerce increased the Merchant Guilds tended to de- 
generate into close oligarchies of comparatively wealthy 
traders, jealous of their privileges, and desirous to ex- 
clude others from them. This led to the formation by 
the poorer traders of the Craft Guilds, which began 
before the end of the 12th century. The members 
of each craft or trade organised themselves into separate 
associations more or less on the model of the original 
Merchant Guilds, but each association being confined to 
persons engaged in the same craft. For some time both 
types existed side by side ; but by the 14th century the 
Merchant Guilds had disappeared or had become identified 
with the central municipal government of the town. In 
the 14th century the Craft Guilds were at the height of 
their power in all the countries of Europe. It is in them 
that the mediaeval spirit of Christian association is best 

The first Craft Guild to be formed in a town was usually 
a guild of weavers. It was these weavers’ guilds that led 
the way in the contest of the poorer traders with the older 
Merchant Guilds. Soon we find guilds of butchers, of 

1 lb., chaps, xi— xiv. Cf. also Gasquet, loc. cit. 



bakers, of tailors, of leather-dressers, of dyers, of spurriers, 
of helmet-makers, etc. A town might have fifty or more 
different guilds. Just as the original Merchant Guild 
included, or was meant to include, all the traders of the 
town, so each Craft Guild aimed at gathering into itself all 
persons engaged in any way in the particular craft. 

Their Relation to the Municipal Authority. — For the 

foundation of a guild a charter had to be obtained from 
the sovereign or the municipal authorities of the town. 
This charter of foundation usually conferred such extensive 
powers on the guild that the latter might be almost de- 
scribed as a kind of petty republic, subordinate indeed to the 
municipal government, but possessing very extensive control 
over its own members and over all matters pertaining to 
the trade or business of the guild. Each guild was in fact 
a kind of industrial fief organised on a democratic and 
religious basis, holding from the central municipal authority, 
which itself may be regarded, or in reality was, a fief of the 
sovereign. Hence by a natural process the municipal 
government itself was to a large extent in the hands of the 
guild authorities, or rather was a kind of imperial union 
made up of the different guilds as petty subordinate states. 
It was the guilds that in practice selected the municipal 
officials, furnished the town police, and carried on the whole 
municipal administration. 

Their Wealth and Independence. — The Guilds were usually 
wealthy and powerful corporations. As a rule each guild 
had its own hall, its own hospital, its own chapel, its special 
emblems, its particular banner, its distinctive uniform. In 
the magnificent civic displays in which that age delighted, 
the guilds took a leading part and spared no expense. The 
principal sources of their revenues were :• — (a) The annual 
subscriptions of the members, which were graduated accord- 
ing to the means of each. ( b ) The entrance fees paid by 
apprentices, assistants and masters, (c) Fines. ( d ) Donations 
and bequests, which often included lands or houses given 
for the purposes of the guild or for some specific object 
within the guild’s jurisdiction. 1 

1 Cf. Gasquet, op. tit., chap, xi, pp. 326, 327. 



The Organisation of the Guild. — The members of a Craft 
Guild were divided into three grades or classes, namely 
Apprentices , 1 Journeymen 2 and Masters. To each grade 
belonged rights and duties peculiar to itself. At the head 
of the guild administration stood the Governing Council 
which usually consisted of four persons, chosen annually 
from among the oldest and most trustworthy of the 

The Governing Council. — These were the accredited re- 
presentatives of the Guild Corporation. They appointed 
the subordinate officials, administered the finances, and 
controlled the whole executive of the organisation. They 
watched over the interests of each member of the guild and 
were the official guardians of the apprentices. They were 
not paid. At the end of their term of office, they had to 
give an account of their administration before an assembly 
of masters . 3 

The guild authorities regulated the wages of journeymen, 
the hours of work, the conditions of purchasing raw material, 
and of marketing the produce ; and the prices at which the 
latter was to be sold. They arranged the numbers of 
apprentices and of journeymen that each individual master 
might employ and the duration and conditions of apprentice- 
ship. They took measures to guard against fraud on the 
part of their members and to secure good workmanship. 

The Apprentices. — The interests of the apprentices were 
well provided for. The period of apprenticeship was usually 
seven years. During that time the apprentice lived in the 
master’s house as a member of the family and on terms of 
social equality. The master was bound to protect and 
exercise parental control over the apprentice committed to 
his care. He was responsible for his moral and religious 
conduct, as well as for his professional training. The 
master’s duties and responsibilities in this regard were of a 
very solemn and serious kind. If he failed in his duties the 
guild authorities quicldy intervened on the apprentice’s 

1 From the French word Apprcndre, to learn. 

2 From the French word Journee, day. 

5 Cf. Martin-Saint-Leon, op. cit., pp. 83 ff. 


behalf. The following extract from a guild document 
quoted by Janssen will convey some idea of the objects 
aimed at by the guilds in the training of the apprentices : 

“No trade or profession can succeed honourably unless the 
apprentice is early taught to fear God and be obedient to his 
master, as if he were his father. He must morning and evening 
and during the week beg God for help and protection, for 
without God he can do nothing. . . . Every Sunday and holy 
day he must hear Mass and a sermon and read good books. He 
must be industrious and seek not his own glory but God. The 
honour of his master and of his trade he must also seek, for 
this is holy, and he may one day be a master himself, if God 
wills and he is worthy of it. . . . When the apprentice fails in 
obedience and the fear of God, he shall be punished, so that 
through the pain of the body, the soul may benefit.” 1 

The Journeymen. — The apprenticeship completed, the 
young man sometimes became a master-craftsman im- 
mediately, with his own establishment and his own ap- 
prentices. More usually, however, he had to serve some 
years as an assistant or Journeyman. In the 14th century 
this was made compulsory, so that by guild law every 
craftsman had to serve a term of assistantship before 
he could be enrolled by the guild authorities as a master. 
The journeyman chose his own master with whom he 
arranged the terms of service. Like the apprentice, he 
usually lived as a member of the master’s household. He 
often married the master’s daughter, and thus became a 
permanent member of the family. The journeyman, though 
not eligible for the official positions of the guild, had a 
voice in the administration and in the election of the 
masters, and a share in all the ordinary privileges of the 

The Masters. — Higher than the journeyman in grade of 
dignity was the Master. The Master had his own establish- 
ment, either as his father’s successor or otherwise. At that 
time it required no great capital to start an independent 
business ; and the guild was usually ready to advance 
money for the purpose on easy terms to a deserving member. 
But to be enrolled as a master other conditions were required. 

1 Op. cit., bookiii, chap, ii, p. 20. 



The candidate had to be a practising Catholic. He was 
required to present satisfactory testimonials from the 
masters under whom he served as apprentice and journey- 
man. It was necessary besides to pass a satisfactory pro- 
fessional test. This usually took the shape of presenting 
what was termed a “ masterpiece ” of his own handiwork. 
Lastly, he had to pay a fee and in the presence of the 
council to take an oath promising fidelity to all the 
obligations of the association . 1 

Social and Economic Policy of the Guilds.— The general 
policy of guild law common to both Merchant and Craft 
Guilds, was that while each individual member was left 
free within certain limits to pursue his own interests as he 
thought best, the common interests of the whole trade were 
considered paramount. Hence every member was bound 
to submit, in the interests of the common good, to certain 
general regulations which limited his freedom. He was 
also bound to come to the assistance of his fellow-members 
when required . 2 

The guild regulations were aimed at preventing an undue 
absorption of the trade by any individual ; at checking 
profiteering (which was known as Regrating ), trusts, or 
monopolies, and all commercial practices which savoured 
of excessive selfishness. Thus if a person attempted to 
“ corner ” some particular product by making excessively 
large purchases, he was compelled to share such materials 
at cost price with any guildman that might require them . 3 
Again, no one was allowed to take part in any work that 
did not belong to his own craft. Separate unions of masters 
and journeymen were forbidden. To such an extent did 
the altruistic spirit prevail that in some places — as for 
instance at Florence — when a member was considered unduly 
wealthy he v/as bound to give his surplus wealth to the 
guild . 1 

Industrial Protection and Control. — Protection was a pro- 
minent feature of the economic policy of the guilds. Accord- 

1 Cf. Antoine, op. cit., chap, xiv, art. 3. For some account of the Dublin 
Guilds, cf. Shields, op. cit. 

2 Cf. Ashley, op. cit., part i, p. 74. 

3 Cf. Husslein, op. cit., chap. xii. 

4 Cf. Belliot — Manuel de Sociologie Cath., p. 32., 



ing to the mediaeval guild doctrine the natives of the place 
had the first claim on local resources and trade. Hence 
outsiders were excluded in so far as their interference or 
competition might prevent the town traders from earning 
a proper livelihood. 

We have already referred to the doctrine of the Just 
Price, on the strength of which the guild authorities fixed 
the prices of products as well as of labour. The objects 
aimed at were to secure a proper wage for the manufacturer 
and at the same time to safeguard the interests of the 
consumer. Thus every guildman (which practically meant 
every worker of the town) was enabled to earn a fair living ; 
and the weak were protected from the effects of unfettered 
competition, in which they might be so far worsted as to 
be deprived of the means of supporting life. If an in- 
dividual had special ability or skill he was to employ it 
not in accumulating a large fortune, but in producing for 
the market the most perfect articles of workmanship . 1 
This policy promoted efficient workmanship. The artisan 
had a great pride in his profession and usually a great 
ambition to excel. Hence that age produced the greatest 
triumphs of handicraft. 

The guild regulations also aimed at securing the common 
good of the town. The high standard of public spirit which 
the guilds displayed was due partly to the Christian prin- 
ciples which then dominated social relations, and partly 
to the democratic character of the community. The power 
of one guild was kept in due check by the others, who could 
retaliate on any association that acted unfairly. Hence 
the guilds legislated to prevent scarcity on the one hand, 
and over-production on the other. 

They took efficient measures through their bailiffs and 
inspectors to secure good workmanship in all the articles 
produced by the craftsmen, as well as a high standard of 
honesty and fair dealing. Their records contain numerous 
instances of heavy fines being imposed for dishonestly 
dyeing wool, for mixing bad wool with good, for selling at 
more than the fixed price, etc . 2 Guild inspectors constantly 
visited the merchants in their homes or workshops to ensure 

1 Cf . Husslcin, op. cit., chap. xi. 

2 Cf. Ashley, loc. cit., p. 75 ; also Husslein, op. cit., chap. xv. 


that all things were honestly done. Members were some- 
times expelled from the guild for repeated violations of 

The Pervading Spirit of Charity. — The greatest spirit of 
solidarity and mutual help animated the whole guild 
organisation. Thus money was advanced on easy terms 
to members who needed it. Those suffering from sickness, 
old age, accidents, etc., were liberally provided for. Even 
a guildman who might get into trouble with the municipal 
or state authorities had a right to the protection of the 
guild. If, after investigation by the council, his case was 
considered a deserving one he was defended in the courts 
at the co m mon expense. Sick members were visited ; and 
wine and food were sent from the public banquets to those 
whom illness or weakness prevented from attending. The 
dead, if the family was poor, were buried at the expense of 
their guild with all the honours befitting their position, and 
their daughters dowered for marriage or the convent . 1 

The Religious Character of the Guilds. — Another peculiarly 
Christian characteristic of these guilds was their practical 
recognition of the intimate connection of religion with 
commercial relations and with all the activities of life. 
Although the primary object of the associations was 
economic, the guilds made every effort to secure good conduct 
and fidelity to religious duties on the part of the members. 
Individuals were punished or sometimes expelled from the 
guilds for immoral or irreligious conduct. 

Every guild was under the protection of a patron saint 
or was specially dedicated to the Holy Trinity or to the 
Blessed Mother of God under one of her titles. The portrait 
of the guild patron was painted on the banner of the guild 
which w r as borne in the public processions. Thus the guild 
of wood-w'orkers was commonly under the protection of 
St. Joseph. The shoemakers usually had on their banner 
paintings of SS. Crispin and Crispinian. Bakers were often 
under the patronage of St. Honorius, and so on. The 
association of the heavenly patron with the trade that 
belonged to the guild intensified the craftsmen’s pride in 
their work and the men’s esteem for the nobility of manual 

Cf. Ashley, loo. oil., p. 70 . 



labour. The Church Feast of the patron was always the 
occasion of the great annual banquet of the guild. 

Many guilds had their own special chapels ; and we com- 
monly find provision made in the guild statutes for the 
support of a chaplain and sometimes of several chaplains. 
Some of the most beautiful of the mediaeval churches belonged 
to or were built by the guilds. Provision was also regularly 
made for the celebration of Masses for the intentions of 
the guild, and for the offering of candles at holy shrines. 
On the death of a member care was taken to have Masses 
offered and alms given for his eternal rest. Almsgiving, 
which was practised even towards the poor outside the 
guild, was an important item of the ordinary guild expen- 
diture. Oftentimes a guild gave feasts in its buildings to 
the poor of the whole town . 1 

Destruction of the Guilds. — In the 15th century, owing 
to the spread of the spirit of the Renaissance, more or less 
unchristian, the guilds began to lose their religious character 
and to decline in utility and influence. After the Protestant 
Revolt of the 16th century they gradually developed into 
exclusive corporations of wealthy traders. In England, at 
the Reformation period, the religious confraternities that 
were attached to the guilds were suppressed as being super- 
stitious associations, and most of the corporate property 
of the guilds was confiscated. When the supervision of the 
Church was withdrawn the guilds soon lost their Christian 
character as well as their social significance. In France, 
under the despotic rule of the French kings after the 15tli 
century, the guilds ceased to be a means of protection for 
the journeymen, who were then a majority of the members. 
These formed associations of their own, regardless of all 
professional or even religious distinction. Something 
similar took place in the other European countries about 
the same period or a little later. Hence the guilds, as far 
as they survived after the 16th century, had a scope and 
character different from the mediaeval guilds which we have 
described. They were suppressed in France at the Revolu- 
tion of 1789. 

1 Cf. Pastor — History of the Popes, vol. v. Introduction i, pp. 33 tf ; 
Gasquet, loc. cii., pp. 327 if. 



Can the Mediaeval Guilds be Revived ? — Modern industrial 
conditions are very different in many respects from those 
of the mediaeval town. The population is much larger ; 
intercommunication with foreign countries greater ; the 
State organisation more highly developed. Above all, the 
industrial unit of the great factory, worked by expensive 
machinery, is much more difficult to organise than the 
simple workshop of the mediaeval craftsman. Hence a 
renewal of the mediaeval guilds in the shape that they had 
assumed in the 12th and 13th centuries may not be prac- 
ticable. But the principle of co-operation and democratic 
control tempered and guided by Christian influence, and 
elevated by religious practice which underlay the mediaeval 
organisation of industry, are always applicable ; and in a 
return to these principles lies the only real solution of the 
present “ Social Question.” Such a solution is quite feasible 
in a Catholic country, under a government animated by 
Christian principles and aided by the co-operation of the 
Church. 1 

1 Leo XIII — Rerum Novarum, 1891, pp. 142—144 ; Graves de Communi, 
igoi, pp. 166, 177-179 ; Pius XI —Ubi Arcano, 1922, pp. 240-248, also Quas 
Pritnas, 1925, and Quadragesimo Anno, 1931, passim, especially pp. 36—44 
(C. T. S. edit.). See also infra, chap, xv, art. 2; chap, xviii, art. 2; 
chap, xx, art. 6. 

6 * 


Art. 1 — Introductory 

Summary of the Preceding. — In the foregoing chapters 
wo have attempted to convey some idea of the effects upon 
social life of Christian as contrasted with non-Christian 
principles and methods. 

The latter, which rest upon egoism and the glorification 
of brute force, held undisputed sway in Europe during tho 
early centuries of the Roman Empire and were again 
partially re-established after the Teutonic conquests of the 
fifth and following centuries. In both cases they resulted 
in the oppression, pauperisation, or degradation of the 
weaker members of society, especially women, the poor, 
and slaves. On the other hand, the Christian regime which 
prevailed to a considerable extent over the Roman Empire 
immediately before the Teutonic invasions, and was gradually 
restored and perfected during the Middle Ages, secures 
respect for human dignity and protection for the personal 
rights of every member of society, even the poorest and 
weakest, and an effectual recognition in social relations of 
the essential brotherhood of men. Under the Christian 
regime, justice and charity are practised and co-operation 
and mutual help promoted ; so that every member of the 
community is usually attached to some organised body from 
which he can, when need requires, claim protection and 

Hence mediaeval society, notwithstanding its many short- 
comings, was on the whole tho best the world had hitherto 
known. In that society there were protection and security 
for the poor and weak, and, as a rule, tolerable material 
conditions for all. Substantial happiness and contentment 
prevailed, the consolations of religion making up for many 
material hardships. The ideal of human brotherhood was 
in practice substantially realised, and there existed a 
sympathetic union between the different social classes ; 




at least all of these traits are to he found in the mediaeval 
Christian society in a larger measure than Europe had ever 
previously known or has experienced since. 

End of Catholic Regime. — The change from the Christian 
regime first began to be seriously felt in the 15th century. 
After the capture of Constantinople by the Turks, in the 
year 1453, Greek scholars crowded into Italy, France and 
Germany, bringing with them the treasures of classical 
literature and art, which they had rescued from the fallen 
city. The sudden spread of pagan Greek learning and 
culture, combined with debased pagan ideals masquerading 
as “ humanism,” together with an unprecedented accession 
of wealth, consequent upon the discovery of the New World 
and the opening up of the maritime routes to the Far East, 
tended to produce a great deterioration of morals, especially 
among the leisured and privileged classes. All this combined 
with other causes already touched upon 1 prepared the way 
for the great catastrophe of the 16th century, commonly 
called the Protestant Reformation. This marks the turning 
point at which the history of modern Europe begins. 

The New Phase in Social Conditions. — As a result of this 
fatal upheaval the unity of Christendom was broken and 
large portions of Europe were detached from the ancient 
faith. At the same time the influence of the Church was so 
seriously weakened, even in countries that remained Catholic, 
that non-Christian principles were gradually reintroduced 
into political and social life ; and many of the character- 
istics of the old pagan regime began to reappear. 

Prominent among these characteristics are the absolutism 
of the government, whether the latter be a monarchy or a 
so-called democratic body ; an ever-growing tendency to 
bring domestic life under the despotic control of the 
secularist State ; a practical disregard for the human dignity 
and independence of a person who is without property or 
power ; a revival of the old pagan conception of the absolute 
rights of ownership in disregard of its responsibilities and 
duties ; the gradual disappearance of communal property 
and of the co-operative social organisations which did so 

1 Cf. Supra, cliap. iv at end. 


much under the Christian regime to safeguard the interests 
of the poor. Among the results of all this have been the 
concentration of the material resources of the nation under 
the oontrol of a few individuals, and the practical enslave- 
ment and degradation of the unpropertied masses, with the 
consequent reappearance of the fierce antagonism between 
rich and poor. 

Leo XIII, writing of modern errors and revolutionary 
movements, traces the great evils of modem life to the 
Protestant Revolt of the 16th century : 

“ Those venomous teachings [viz., the principles of the Pro- 
testant Reformers] like pernicious seed scattered far and wide 
among the nations have produced in course of time death- 
bearing fruit. . . . Deriving pretentiously its name from reason, 
this false doctrine . . . has pervaded the whole of civilised 
society. Hence . . . governments have been organised without 
God or His divinely established order being taken into account. 
It has even been contended that public authority . . . originates 
not from God, but from the mass of the people which, considering 
itself unfettered by all divine sanction, refuses to submit to 
any laws that it has not passed of its own free will. . . . The 
very Author and Redeemer of mankind has been forced slowly 
and gradually to withdraw from the scheme of studies at 
universities, colleges and high schools, as well as from all the 
practical working of public life. . . . The keen longing after 
happiness has been narrowed down to the range of the present 
life. ... No wonder that tranquillity no longer prevails in 
public or private life, or that the human race has been hurried 
onward well nigh to the verge of ruin.” 1 

Division of the Subject. — In order to convey an adequate 
idea of the effects upon social life of the 16th century revolt, 
we shall first sketch briefly the course of events by which 
Protestantism secured a firm foothold in Northern Europe, 
and then indicate under a few main headings, the most 
notable changes in political and social life, that followed 
as a direct result from the Protestant revolt. We shall 
next discuss the social and economic theories of unchristian 
Liberalism, which was the logical outcome of Protestant 
teaching. As modern capitalism has borrowed its ultra 
individualistic character from Protestant and Liberal prin- 
ciples we shall treat briefly of it and the deplorable social 

1 Quod Apostolici Muneris, 1878, pp. 13-14. 



conditions which have resulted from it. We shall then discuss 
Socialism, which is at bottom merely a new phase of 
Liberalism, though differing from it in its economic doctrines. 
In a supplementary chapter we shall strive to show how 
all the anti-Christian and anti social elements of modern 
society are more or less concentrated in, or rather aro re- 
presented by, the doctrines and tendencies of an aggressive 
world wide organisation bom of Protestantism and re- 
peatedly condemned by the Vicar of Christ, viz., Free- 
masonry. After discussing briefly the main headings of 
the social evils resulting from all those modern doctrines 
and movements, we shall conclude our historical sketch 
with a short review of the Catholic social movement which 
has now spread into almost every country of Europe and 
America and aims at the re-establishment of Christian 
principles in political and social life. 

Art. 2 — Rise and Spread of Protestantism 1 

Its Beginnings. — Protestantism began in Germany. The 
main driving force behind the movement there as elsewhere 
was not religion, but personal ambition or avarice or lust 
or all these motives combined. The leader of the move- 
ment was Martin Luther, an apostate Augustinian friar, of 
remarkable ability, unbridled passions and boundless 
ambition. Luther launched the revolt against the Church 
on October 31st, 1517, when he posted his celebrated Ninety- 
five Theses on the church door at Wittenberg. 

The Name Protestant. — The name Protestant is derived 
from the Protest presented by the German Lutheran princes 
at the Diet of the Holy Roman Empire, held at Speyer in 
the year 1529. In this protest they rejected and condemned 
as unjust and impious the imperial decree first promulgated 
at the Diet of Worms five years before, and now again 
renewed at Speyer, which prohibited the princes from 
forcing the new religion upon those of their subjects that 

1 Pastor — History of the Popes (English translation), vols. ix-xiii ; 
MacCaflrey — History of the Church from the Renaissance to the French 
Revolution, 2 vols (Gill, Dublin, 1915) ; Mourret — Histoire Generate de 
I'Eglise, vol. v (La Renaissance et la Reforme) ; Janssen — History of the 
German People (Mitchell’s translation) ; Belloc — How the Reformation 
Happened (Cape, London, 1928). 



wished to adhere to the old faith. The name was originally 
used to designate only the protesting princes, but it was 
gradually extended to include all the adherents of the new 
religion, whether Lutheran, Anglican, Calvinistic, or belong- 
ing to any one of the numberless sects into which Pro- 
testantism gradually broke up. The name has been 
accepted by Protestants themselves ; and is appropriate 
in so far as it is closely associated, both historically 
and etymologically, with opposition to Catholicism. For 
disagreement with Catholic doctrine and practice, and 
especially with the teaching authority and governing power 
of the Church, is practically the only point upon which all 
Protestants are at one . 1 

Nature of Protestantism. — Protestantism, as a system of 
religious practice and belief, is vague and indefinite, which 
it needs must be, when every man is constituted the ultimate 
arbiter of his own obligations and the deciding authority 
in regard to the truths of faith which he may reject or accept. 
For this tenet, which is called the Right of Private J udgment, 
is a fundamental principle in Protestantism. The system 
may be loosely described as resting on, or centering round 
three standard principles. These are as follows : 

(a) The Bible, as interpreted by each individual for 
himself, is the sole rule of faith, Christian tradition being 
thus rejected. 

(b) Man is justified by faith alone, so that good works 
are useless for salvation or merit. 

(c) As a result of the foregoing principles, there is no 
room for a divinely-constituted priesthood, or hierarchy. 
For, since every man is his own supreme teacher, and is able 
to sanctify himself by an easy act of faith or trust in God 
without the aid of sacrament or sacrifice, the priesthood, if 
retained at all, is not to be considered an essential part of 
Church organisation. 

These principles, however, were never fully accepted by 
all Protestants. In fact, the first, which confers on all the 

1 Hence the declaration of faith made by the King of England at his 
coronation : “ I declare that I am a faithful Protestant,” is in practice 
meant to convey only this meaning. Nobody pretends to define positively 
what a " faithful Protestant ” means except that it is inconsistent with 
being a Catholic. 



right of private judgment in religious matters, manifestly 
excludes the possibility of a consistent system of practice 
or belief. The proclamation and propagation of the new 
principles, however, attained the desired object of destroying 
the authority and organisation of the Church over large 
portions of Christendom. 

Rapid Spread of Protestantism.— Within little more than 
half a century from the commencement of Luther’s revolt, 
Protestantism had definitely gained the upper hand in 
central and northern Germany, also in Holland, Denmark, 
Scandinavia, and in a great part of Switzerland, as well as 
in England and Scotland. The new religion had also made 
great progress in Austria, Bavaria, and other portions of 
Germany, as well as in Hungary, Bohemia and Poland. 
The fate of France, in which the Huguenots, a strong aggres- 
sive faction of fanatical Calvinists, were in open rebellion 
against the king, was hanging in the balance. Ireland, 
where most of the Irish princes and Anglo-Irish barons, as 
well as very many leading ecclesiastics had, as in England, 
accepted the usurped ecclesiastical supremacy of the English 
king, was also in imminent peril of being lost to the faith . 1 
Even in Italy and Spain the subversive movement had made 
no little headway. 

Its Causes. — The rapid progress of the new religion was 
partially due to real abuses in the discipline and administra- 
tion of the Church. These abuses had existed for a con- 
siderable time ; and for more than a century before Luther’s 
time, all sincere Catholics had been striving in vain to 
bring about a thorough reform of the Church in its head 
and members. Many of the clergy of all ranks were leading 
very worldly lives. Money was often extorted from the 
people in unjustifiable ways or to an unreasonable extent. 
Neglect of the sacraments was widespread in many places. 

The principal cause, however, of the rapid spread of the 
revolt was the methods adopted by the innovators, whose 
real aim was the complete overthrow of the Church, and 

1 Cf. Ronan — The Reformation in Dublin, 1536-1558 (Longmans, London, 
1926) ; also The Reformation Under Elizabeth, 1536—1580 (Longmans, 
London, 1930). 



wlio mobilised in support of their movement all the worst 
instincts of men. In their code of morals they deliberately 
pandered to the most depraved human passions. Sin, 
according to the new doctrine, presented no obstacle to 
eternal salvation. Pride, lust, avarice, injustice, cruelty 
and the rest, were to be healed or covered over by an easy 
act of trust in God. The Lutheran doctrine rejecting the 
utility of good works was carried still further by Calvin, 1 
according to whose teaching men are predestined to heaven 
or hell without any account being taken of their actions ; 
for in the Calvinistic doctrine the human will is not free, 
and so men’s actions are not worthy either of reward or 

Besides the strong appeal to men’s depraved passions 
which such doctrines contained, many other inducements 
were held out to draw the people away from the ancient 
religion. “ The immense fortune of the Church [the Patri- 
mony of the Poor] was now to be the prize of apostasy ; 
political and religious independence allured the kings and 
princes ; the abolition of tithes. Confession, fasting, and 
other irksome obligations attracted the masses. Many 
persons were deceived into the new religion by outward 
appearances of Catholicism, which the innovators carefully 
maintained as in England and the Scandinavian kingdoms.” 2 

Amongst the people that were not depraved, Protes- 
tantism made progress only as a result of deception or 
under pressure of coercive force. Prom the very beginning 
the innovators, after the example of the Mohammedans 
nearly a thousand years before, propagated the new religion 
with “ the Bible in one hand and the sword in the other.” 
Over the whole of Christendom, from Switzerland in the 
south, to Scotland and Scandinavia in the north, fierce and 
bloody wars were stirred up, which continued to desolate 
Europe for more than a hundred years. The long drawn- 
out civil wars in Germany (terminated only in 1649 by the 
Peace of Westphalia), the fierce struggle in the Netherlands 

1 The Protestants of Switzerland, Holland and Scotland are Calvinistic. 
So, too, were the Presbyterian planters of the north-eastern counties of 
Ireland and the original founders of most of the New England States of 
America. Even the Protestant church established by law in Ireland 
(“ The Church of Ireland,” as it was called) was and remained predomin- 
antly Calvinistic at heart. 

2 Cf. Cath. Encyclop., vol. xii, p. 449 ( b ). 



between Philip II and the revolted provinces, the Huguenot 
wars in France were but different acts in the long and terrible 
drama. The fierceness and implacable cruelty which char- 
acterised the Tudor and Puritan conquests of Ireland, 
during which about two-thirds of the population were cut 
off by famine and the sword ; 1 and the oppression, robbery 
and persecutions that followed borrowed much of their 
intensity from the same religious hatred and fanaticism. 

The pi’ogress of the new faith was thus marked almost 
everywhere by a trail of desolation and blood, the material 
effects of which (wo shall speak later of the appalling de- 
terioration of morals) weighed heavily on several countries 
of Europe during the two succeeding centuries. 

Turning of the Tide. — We have said that Protestantism 
made very rapid progress during half a century or more 
after the beginning of Luther’s revolt, so that at one time 
the Church would seem to be imperilled in almost every 
country of Christendom. The early violence of the move- 
ment, however, did not last ; and the storm gradually began 
to subside. Before the beginning of the last quarter of the 
sixteenth century, the tide had definitely turned in favour 
of the ancient faith ; and within the next fifty years the 
Church had not only consolidated its position, but had re- 
gained much of the ground that had been lost. 

One of the causes of the change was no doubt the 
bitter dissensions and numberless divisions among the Pro- 
testants themselves ; but the root cause of the Catholic 
recovery was the real reform wdiich was wrought in the 
discipline and administration of the Church. The inspiring 
force in this counter Beformation w T as the work of the great 
Council of Trent (1545-1563). A decisive element in carry- 
ing out the work of reform were the labours of the Society 
of Jesus which was founded in 1540. 

Austria, Bavaria, and the other portions of Southern and 
Western Germany that were endangered, as well as Hungary 

1 The population of Ireland before the Tudor Wars is generally estimated 
at about two millions. According to a census made in 1659 (viz., after 
the Elizabethan and Puritan wars in Ireland) the population was 500,091 
(Cf. O'Brien — Economic History of Ireland in the 17 th Century, pp. 122—123, 
also p. 12). According, however, to Sir W. Petty's estimate made in 
1672, the Catholic population at that time (which would roughly cor- 
respond to the whole native population to the exclusion of the British 
settlers that were introduced after the wars) was about 800,000. 



and Poland, were thus substantially saved to the Church. 
Heresy was stamped out in Spain and Italy through the 
activities of the Inquisition. Spain’s zealous championship 
of Catholicism did much to check the aggressive policy of 
the revolted states and strengthen Catholic resistance. The 
power of Calvinism was broken in France after a series of 
destructive civil wars which desolated the country for more 
than thirty years (1562-1598). 

Saving of Ireland. — Ireland was saved to the Church 
partly as a result of the preaching and labours of the 
Franciscan Friars. Another important factor in the work 
was the coming of Father D. Wolfe, S.J., who arrived in 
the country as Papal Delegate in 1560 and succeeded in 
selecting worthy candidates for the vacant Episcopal Sees. 
Later on came the labours of the Jesuit Fathers who estab- 
lished a permanent mission in Ireland in 1598. Two other 
important elements in deciding the religious crisis in Ireland 
were the exceptional strength among the ordinary people 
of the Irish Catholic tradition and the long drawn-out 
struggle of the Geraldine wars. The dominant issue in the 
latter was the religious question. James Fitzmaurice, the 
Irish Catholic leader, with whom Fr. Wolfe was in close 
intimacy, was directly supported by the Pope and the King 
of Spain. These wars, and the war of the Irish Northern 
princes which succeeded it, by clearing the issues, forced 
the trimmers and the faint-hearted, whether Irish or Anglo- 
Irish, to espouse openly one side or the other ; and, although 
the Catholic Irish were beaten to the dust in the military 
contest, the war proved one of the most important elements 
in saving the country to the Church. 

During the first quarter of the seventeenth century eccle- 
siastical seminaries for the training of Irish students were 
opened on the Continent, several of them having been 
endowed by the King of Spain. The constant supply of 
zealous and well-trained priests from these seminaries 
during the 17th and 18th centuries made the position of 
the Church in Ireland practically secure. The preservation 
of the faith in Ireland, which hung for many years in the 
balance, has had far-reaching consequences not only in 
the country itself but on the position of Catholicism iu the 
whole modern world. 



Art. 3 — Direct Consequences of the Protestant Revolt 1 

Protestant View. — While historians of all schools generally 
admit that Protestantism produced results of immense 
importance on European society, they are not in agreement 
as to what these results actually were. Protestant historians 
generally strive to hold up the Protestant Revolt against the 
Church, not only as just and necessary in itself, but as the 
harbinger of numberless social blessings for the European 
races. They assume almost as a truism that Protestantism 
did, and by its very nature must, lead not only to a higher 
and purer moral life among the people, but to democratic 
freedom, increased intellectual activity resulting in great 
scientific progress, and, above all, to economic prosperity 
and a wider diffusion of material comfort and well-being. 
In discussing the truth of this view one may examine the 
character of the new forces which the Protestant Revolt 
set in motion, and infer what their effects must needs be ; 
and, again, the facts themselves as actually recorded in 
history may be summarised and weighed in the balance. 
In our brief discussion of the question in which both these 
methods will be utilised, we hope to show that no part of 
the Protestant view can be historically proved ; and that 
the greater portion of it is at variance with well-established 
historical facts. 

Repudiation of Christian Principles and its Results. — The 

obligations of the Christian religion cover the whole range 
of a man’s activities, extending even to his inward thoughts 
and the motives and springs of his actions. Baptism 
implies, as it were, a new creation which elevates the soul 
to a higher sphere. All the activities of the baptised 
Christian, and especially his domestic and social relations, 
which in Christian teaching hold a position of paramount 
importance, are expected to be in harmony with his new 
dignity as the adopted child of God. Hence it happened, 
as w r e have already seen, that when the nations were con- 

1 Cf. Baudrillart — The Catholic Church, the Renaissance and Protestantism, 
chaps, viii— x ; Balmes — European Civilisation ; Janssen, op. cit. ; O’Brien — - 
An Essay on the Economic Effects of the Reformation ; Cobbett — History of 
the Protestant Reformation ; Pastor — History of the Popes, vol. x ; Mourret — ■ 
Histoire Generate de TEglise, tome v (La Renaissance et la Reforme) ; 
Tawncy — Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (London, 1926). 



verted to Christianity the whole character of society gradu- 
ally underwent a profound change in proportion as the 
domestic and civil life of the people became attuned to 
Christian ideals. “ Religion became intimately bound up 
with the social life of the people animating it and penetrating 
it at every point ” ; x so that the whole network of social 
relations and practices was built upon the foundations of 
Christianity. A repudiation of Christianity would thus 
lead necessarily to an upheaval affecting the very ground- 
work of society. Now, Protestantism, while not professing 
to reject Christianity, did repudiate several of its funda- 
mental principles. 

Repudiation of the Church’s Doctrines. — The “ Reformers ” 
denied the value of good works and the transforming effect 
of sanctifying grace on the soul. They denied, too, the 
existence of an organised spiritual power independent of 
the State, with authority to take cognisance of all the 
activities of men, and even of their inmost thoughts and 
desires ; and to punish injustice and wrong. Hence, Con- 
fession was abolished, and all spiritual penalties and sanctions 
removed. The usurer, the fraudulent dealer, the oppressor 
of the poor had no longer to appear before the inexorable 
tribunal, from which there is no escape, of a divinely founded 
Church endowed by God with power to admonish, to judge 
and to condemn. The criminal was now his own admonitor 
and judge, except when he came formally within the coercive 
power of the civil law, which too often he could easily evade. 

Where, as in England, the Protestant leaders did not 
formally reject the principle of a Christian hierarchy, they 
deprived that order of its influence on social life by confining 
its activities and authority to the sphere of public worship. 
Besides all this, their teaching tended to restrict the functions 
of Our Divine Lord to those of a Redeemer, so that He was 
no longer held up, at least to the same extent as before, as 
the Teacher and Model of men. In contrast with the old 
traditional ideals of Christianity, religious obligations were 
thus almost entirely confined to the duties of worship and 
prayer, and had little or no influence upon political and 
social life. 

Gasquet — Eve of the Reformation, chap, xiii, p. 393. 



And of its Moral Code. — Having repudiated the teaching 
authority of the Church, round which all Christian practice 
and belief had previously centred, Protestant rulers and 
people were left to the vagaries of their own unaided judg- 
ment and the uncertain impulses of human prejudice and 
passion. Their moral code ceased to be a definite legal 
system covering all the activities of life. It became instead 
a set of more or less vague philosophical maxims and prin- 
ciples in the application of which every man was his own 
teacher and judge. One can easily understand how such 
a far-reaching revolt against traditional principles produced 
consequences of the first magnitude upon the political, 
economic and social life of European society. On this 
subject the Protestant author, Ingram, writes : 

" It must be admitted that with the whole modern movement 
serious moral [or social] evils were almost necessarily connected. 
The general discipline which the Middle Ages had sought to 
institute, and had partly succeeded in establishing . . . having 
broken down, the sentiment of duty was weakened along with 
the spirit of ensemble [viz., the tendency towards mutual co- 
operation] which is its natural ally, and individualism in doctrine 
tended to encourage egoism in action. In the economic field 
this result is specially conspicuous. National selfishness and 
private cupidity increasingly dominate ; and the higher and 
lower industrial classes tend to separation and even to mutual 
hostility.” 1 

These results were not confined to the revolted provinces. 
The “ Reformation ” weakened the Church’s power as a 
social and civilising force even in the countries that re- 
mained faithful. This occurred, partly as a result of the 
fatal spread of the spirit of revolt through most of Europe 
during the early half of the 16th century, partly through 
the standing example of the new social ideals adopted in 
the Protestant countries, partly also by directing into the 
field of religious controversy the energies by which a united 
Church had during the Middle Ages built up a Christian 
civilisation in Europe. 

Protestantism and Democratic Freedom. — The assertion 
that Protestantism has introduced into Europe, or promoted, 
democratic freedom or real liberty of conscience is still more 

1 History of Political Economy, chap, iv, p. 34 (Dublin, 1888). 



patently untrue. It is a fact, indeed, that at the beginning 
of the revolt Luther’s professions were radically democratic. 
He promised to benefit the people at large by curtailing the 
power of both Church and State. But he and his followers 
ended up by supporting an irresponsible despotism such as 
Europe had not known since the days of the pagan 
Emperors of Rome. 

Incited by Luther’s democratic professions and his de- 
nunciations of the “ tyranny and oppression ” of the rulers, 
the knights and lesser nobility of many of the German 
States, and, later on, the peasants rose in open revolt 
against the princes. When the revolution was crushed in 
blood (1525) the victorious princes, now without a rival, 
and no longer kept in check by the moderating influence 
of the Catholic Church, used their augmented power to 
establish a despotism which they exercised for their own 
personal advantage, in opposition to the interests of the 
people ; while Luther, with unscrupulous inconsistency, now 
proclaimed the doctrine of the unlimited power of rulers. 

Soon even the Church in the Protestant States fell com- 
pletely under the control of the ruling princes, who were 
thus established as absolute masters of both Church and 
State. The wealth of the Church, which hitherto had been 
the patrimony of the poor ; its authority ; all the eccle- 
siastical institutions, including hospitals, schools, homes of 
refuge, etc., passed into the hands of the kings, princes, 
and the town magistrates. At the Peace of Augsburg (1555), 
which ended the first phase of the revolution in Germany, 
the principle was formally adopted that the prince of each 
state was free to dictate the religion of each and all of his 
subjects . 1 

The example of the German princes was not lost upon 
the other European rulers. Within less than a century the 
principle of despotic and more or less irresponsible govern- 
ment had permeated almost every country in Europe, even 
those in which the religious tenets of Protestantism had 
made little progress. Hence, in the 17th century the King 
of France, equally with the King of England, claimed to 

1 This principle was expressed in the celebrated formula, Cuius regio 
eius religio. “ The religion of a particular place is in the control of him 
who owns (or governs) that place." 



rule by right divine, and, therefore to hold authority as 
limitless as that of God, whose plenipotentiary he was. 
The celebrated principle of Louis XIV, “ L’Etat c’est moi ” 
(I am the State), is only a logical inference from the prin- 
ciples of the Protestant reformers a century before . 1 

We have already spoken of the effects of the Protestant 
Reformation upon the position of the serfs in Germany and 
the other European countries in which their liberation 
had not been completed before the “ Reformation ” had 
begun. Not only was any further amelioration delayed 
for centuries, but in most places the serfs lost, as an outcome 
of Protestantism, most of the privileges they had previously 

The religious intolerance of Protestant Germany was 
imitated, or improved upon, in the other revolted countries- — • 
in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and England, and still more 
decidedly in the countries where Calvanism was established, 
such as Switzerland, Holland and Scotland. In each and 
all of these countries, though with varying degrees of 
severity, penal measures were enforced against all the dis- 
senters from the State religion. In Ireland and England, 
under the Tudors and the Puritans, the most ferocious of 
all the penal codes were enacted against Catholics and others 
who were unwilling to conform to the established religion. 

Protestantism and Intellectual Progress. — The assertion 
commonly made by Protestant writers that Protestantism 
stimulated intellectual activity and led to intensified 
scientific and literary progress is not true, or at least cannot 
be proved. It is true indeed that the physical sciences 
which correspond to one important phase of intellectual 
activity, have made remarkable progress among the 
European nations during the past four centuries, as the 
higher mental and moral sciences did during the preceding 

1 Cf. Bossuet— -La Politique tiree des Propres Paroles de VEcriture Sainle : 
" As in God are united all perfections and every virtue, so all the power 
of all the individuals in a community is united in the person of the king ” — 
cited in Carlton Hayes’s History of Modern Europe, vol. i, p. 236. See also 
MacCafirey, op. cit., vol. i, chap. vii. In England after the 17th century, 
this false doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings gave way to the Divine 
Right of Parliament. On the whole question of the Catholic Origin of 
Democracy and the Protestant origin of modem Statolatry and bureau- 
cratic tyranny, cf. Professor A. O’Rahilly’s articles in Studies (1919-1921) 
already referred to (chap, v, p. 34). 


four ; and that some great literature has been produced in 
Protestant countries, and even by Protestant writers. It 
is true also that some few nations, notably England and 
Holland, grew immensely in wealth and power during or 
after the 16th century, and that the beginning of their 
rise to greatness praetically coincided with the change of 
religion. But it cannot be shown that the change promoted 
any one of these results. 1 

In the first place it cannot be shown that the intellectual 
achievements of Europe since the 16th century are on the 
whole greater, or even as great as those of the preceding 
four hundred years. If they have been greater in the field 
of physical science, they have been much less in the higher 
plane of philosophy, theology and mysticism. Again, most 
of the masterpieces of European literature, notably those of 
the Italian, Spanish and French writers, belong to the 
Catholic nations, and very many are of direct Catholic 
inspiration. Even the English Shakespeare, if not a Catholic, 
owes a good deal of his inspiration to purely Catholic ideals, 
and little or nothing to Protestantism. This applies still 
more decidedly to the great masterpieces of architecture, 
sculpture and painting. Since the rise of Christianity 
most of the great works of art have been directly in- 
spired by the Catholic religion, or have been accomplished 
under Church patronage. Under Protestantism, art has, 
on the whole, not flourished, and it is commonly recognised 
that the loss of the Catholic faith by a nation is followed by 
a gradual deterioration of the artistic sense among the 
people and a lessening of the love of beauty. Even as 
regards the scientific achievements of the post-Reformation 
period or of the Protestant nations, no sound argument can 
be adduced to show that any portion of the best work has 
been inspired by Protestantism, or owes its success to the 
Protestant Revolt. 

Protestantism and Economic Progress. — The like is true, 
though not to the same extent, of economic progress in the 
Protestant countries. Such progress has not been confined 
to them, as the example of Belgium shows, and, besides, 
the Catholic districts of the Protestant countries are, on 

1 Cf. O’Brien, op. cit., chap, i ; liaudrillart, op. tit., chaps, ix and x. 



the whole, as progressive as the Protestant ones. 1 The 
foundations of England’s commercial greatness were laid 
by the discovery of the New World, before the nation 
became Protestant. The success was promoted by the 
people’s spirit of initiative and self-reliance, which was 
largely the effect of the free political institutions and the 
system of decentralised government which the country 
enjoyed. These existed in England before the Reformation. 
If they survived it to a certain extent, 2 it was not without 
a long and bitter struggle. They had existed in Germany 
before Luther’s time, but were crushed out, as we shall 
see, as a result of the “ Reformation.” 

Besides all this, it cannot be assumed that increased 
wealth and imperial expansion necessarily imply economic 
betterment. Economic progress in the true sense cannot 
be considered apart from the temporal prosperity, or 
material well-being of the people. 3 How completely the 
increased wealth and imperial expansion of Britain and 
other Protestant countries have failed to promote the 
temporal prosperity of the people at large we shall show 
when dealing with the modern social question. 

Art. 4 — Proteskiritism and Pauperism 

Results of the Plunder of the Church. — Not only is the 
Protestant Revolt mainly responsible for the unsocial char- 
acter of Britain’s economic system but it was the immediate 
cause of much of the degrading pauperism that has dis- 
figured British civilisation for the past four centuries. We 
have already alluded to the plunder of the Church and the 
alienation of the revenues 4 devoted to charitable and 
educational purposes, which took place as a result of the 
religious revolt. This led directly to dreadful hardship in 
the case of the poor, to whose benefit most of the ecclesias- 
tical revenues had previously been applied. The confiscated 
wealth, which according to the law under which the con- 
fiscations were carried out should have been devoted to 

1 Cf. Baudrillart, op. cit., chap, x ; and O’Brien, loc. cit. 

- On this subject, see H. Belloc's illuminating continuation of Lingard’s 
History of England. 

3 Cf. Devas — Political Economy, chap, i and Epilogue. 

4 Chap, vii, art. 3, p. 80. 



the service of the State, was in very large measure appro- 
priated by lawyers, court favourites and other greedy and 
avaricious adventurers. These henceforth formed a new 
class of wealthy and unscrupulous plutocrats who in the 
following centuries dominated the political and social life 
of their several countries. Nowhere did this robbery of 
Church goods produce such disastrous results as in Ireland 
and Britain. In both these countries the Protestant 
Reformation laid the foundations, secure and deep, of 
extreme individualistic capitalism, with its hideous counter- 
part of pauperism and oppression of the poor, which forms 
one of the chief characteristics of their social history during 
the following centuries. 1 On this aspect of the question. 
Cardinal Gasquet writes : 

“ Viewed in its social aspect the English Reformation was in 
reality the rising of the rich against the poor. . . . Those in 
place and power were enabled to grow greater in wealth and 
position, while those who had before but a small share of the 
good things of this world came in the process to have less. . . . 
The supposed purification ... of doctrine and practice was 
brought about ... at the cost of driving a wedge well into 
the heart of the nation, which . . . established the distinction 
which still exists between the classes and the masses.” 2 

The history of this lamentable revolution in England, by 
which the whole face of a great Catholic nation became 
permanently disfigured, the great majority of her once 
happy children plunged in ever-increasing degradation and 
misery, and her ideals and principles conformed to a non- 
Christian instead of a Christian standard, is graphically 
told by the Protestant writer, Cobbett, in his History of the 
Protestant Reformation . 3 “Never,” he writes, “since the 
world began was there so rich a harvest of plunder.” He 
tells how gold and silver, books and manuscripts, ornaments, 
paintings and statuary of priceless value equally with 

1 Cf. H. Belloc — The Servile State, sec. iv ; Tawney, op. cil., chaps, iii 
and iv. 

2 Preface to Cobbett’s History of the Reformation , p. 6. 

3 This classical work, written during the years 1824—27, has been re- 
edited, with notes by Cardinal Gasquet. The few historical inaccuracies 
and exaggerations which had existed in the original are eliminated or 
corrected ; authorities are quoted, so as to make the book, with all its 
startling disclosures a standard historical work. 


church, monastery and convent fell a prey to the satellites 
of Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell : 

“ The whole country was thus disfigured : it had the appear- 
ance of a land recently invaded by the most brutal barbarians ; 
and this appearance it has . . . even to the present day. Nothing 
has ever come to supply the place of what has been destroyed.” 1 

Explaining the social effects of the plunder of the Church, 
Cobbett writes : 

“ The Catholic Church included in itself a great deal more 
than the business of teaching religion . . . and administering 
the Sacraments. It had a great deal to do with the temporal 
concerns of the people. It provided . . . for all the wants of 
the poor and distressed. ... It contained a great body of land 
proprietors, whose revenues were distributed in various ways 
amongst the people upon terms always singularly favourable to 
the latter. It was a great and powerful estate, and naturally 
siding with the people. . . . By its charity and its benevolence 
towards its tenants it mitigated the rigour of proprietorship, 
and held society together by the ties of religion rather than by 
the trammels and terrors of the Law .” 2 

Dissolution of the Monasteries. — The dissolution of the 
monasteries, with the resulting confiscation of their pro- 
perty, immediately produced overwhelming distress amongst 
the multitudes who had been maintained by the resources 
that the religious bodies had administered. It proved 
disastrous also to the tenants on the monastic lands, which 
were probably more than 2,000,000 statute acres in extent. 
The tenants who had been accustomed to an easy and 
sympathetic mode of treatment at the hands of the monks, 
now passed under the power of harsh and exacting landlords. 
Rack-rents were too often exacted and the numerous ex- 
emptions and privileges to which the tenants had been 
accustomed were withdrawn. 

Enclosures and Confiscations. — Again, the common lands, 
in which the poor of the neighbourhood had from 
time immemorial possessed common rights, were seized 

1 Cobbett — History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland. 
Edited by Cardinal Gasquet (Art and Book Co., London, 1899), chap, vii, 
n. 182. 

2 lb., chap, viii, n. 206. 



and enclosed in the lords’ demesnes ; and numberless other 
hardships, hitherto unknown, now began to press upon the 

The wanton confiscation of the property of the guilds, 
hospitals and almshouses, unjust and indefensible even from 
the Protestant standpoint, was also disastrous to the 
interests of the poor. The destruction of the religious 
schools and colleges, in which so many children were 
educated free of cost, was still another blow. Even the 
introduction of a married clergy, which diverted into another 
channel the energies and resources that would otherwise be 
expended upon charity, aggravated further the lot of the 

Vagabondage in England. — Hence it was that the de- 
struction of Catholicism in England gave rise to the sordid 
pauperism which has since disfigured English civilisation. 
Cobbett describes in his own eloquent and vigorous style 
how England, “ once happy, and hospitable, became a den 
of famishing robbers and slaves.” As a result of the 
plunder of the Church and the destruction of the institu- 
tions which had grown up under its influence, the country 
quickly became filled with the destitute. Immense numbers 
of these were driven to live as professional robbers. “ There 
were,” writes Hume, “ at least 300 or 400 able-bodied 
vagabonds in every county who lived by theft and rapine, 
and who sometimes met in troops to the number of sixty 
and committed spoil on the inhabitants.” 1 As many as 
five hundred of this expropriated class were sometimes 
executed in a single year during the reign of Elizabeth. 2 

English Poor Laws. — This state of affairs — a direct result 
of the Protestant revolt — gave rise to the celebrated 
Elizabethan legislation on pauperism, “ as novel as it was 
harsh,” 3 which for the first time standardised pauperism as 
distinct from poverty. The former was henceforth the 
status of those who, being destitute of the prime necessaries 
of life, are maintained at the public expense in the parish 

1 History of England, vol. ii, p. 591. 

2 Cf. Strype — Annals of the Reformation (2nd edit.), chap, vii, quoted 
in Cobbett, op . cii., chap, xi, n. 331. 

3 Gasquct, ib . 



poorhouses. Tliey are no longer “ God’s poor,” to whom 
as the special representatives of Him Who became poor 
for men’s sake, special sympathy and even reverence are 
due. They are now despised outcasts, the pariahs of 
society. They usually live, or are supposed to live, in the 
poorhouses, segregated from their wives and children, under 
a harsh discipline, deprived of the franchise and compelled 
to wear a special uniform. 1 

The following extracts from Palgrave will convey a general 
idea of the spirit which animated the English post-Refor- 
mation legislation on mendicancy and poverty : 

“ It was only towards the middle and end of the 16th century 
that measures against it [viz., mendicancy] were enforced, 
possibly in part owing to the sounder (sic) teachings of the 
Reformers on the subject. Then we find Southampton ordering 
that beggars should have their hair cut, and Parliament de- 
creeing punishments on a progressive scale of severity. Whipping, 
branding, cutting off the gristle of the ear, even death, were the 
penalties assigned (!)... A Consolidating Act of 1713 lays 
it down that any person wandering about the country, on any 
one of a long list of pretences, is to be summarily arrested and 
removed to his settlement, or, if he have none, to be dealt with 
by the poor law authorities of the parish in which he is appre- 
hended ; but previously he may be flogged or set to hard labour, 
or committed for seven years to the custody of any person who 
will undertake to set him to work in Great Britain or the Colonies. 
By the Act of 1744 even women are to be flogged for vagrancy, 
and as late as 1824 flogging is retained as punishment for " in- 
corrigible rogues.” 2 

Such was the spirit introduced by Protestantism into the 
legislative system of a country that was once the “ Dowry 
of Mary.” 

1 Cf. Palgrave — Dictionary of Political Economy, vol. iii, art. “ Poor 
Law,” p. 154 ; also art. " Pauperism,” p. 81 ; cf. also Thorold Rogers — 
Six Centuries of Work and Wages (Fisher Unwin, London, 14th edit., 
1923), chap, xv, ” The English Poor Law”; Webb — English Local 
Government — English Poor Law History (Longmans, London, 1928), 
part i, chaps, i and ii. A departmental committee appointed by the 
Minister of Health for Great Britain states in its report (issued Aug. 13, 
1930) that the treatment of the poor in the “ casual wards ” of some of 
the British workhouses "might Laii 4 y-.b e described as infamous and in- 
tolerable ” (cited in tKerTlelfast Irish N 14, 1930). 

2 Op. cit., vol. ii, art. " Mendicity,” p. 725, chap, iv, sec. iv. 



Art. 5 — Protestantism, and Morality 

Immediate Effects upon Morality. — The assumption that 
Protestantism brought a higher and purer moral life to the 
nations that came under its influence does not need elaborate 
refutation. It is a fact of uncontroverted history that 
“ public morality did at once deteriorate to an appalling 
degree wherever Protestantism was introduced. Not to 
mention robberies of church goods, brutal treatment meted 
out to the clergy, secular and regular, who remained faithful, 
and the horrors of so many wars of religion,” we have the 
express testimony of Luther himself and several other 
leaders of the revolt, such as Bucer and Melancthon, as to 
the evil effects of their teaching ; and this testimony is 
confirmed by contemporaries. 1 Luther’s own avowals on 
this matter are numberless. Thus he writes : 

“ There is not one of our Evangelicals, who is not seven times 
worse than before he belonged to us, stealing the goods of others, 
lying, deceiving, eating, getting drunk, and indulging in every 
vice, as if he had not received the Holy Word. If we have been 
delivered from one spirit of evil, seven others worse than the 
first have come to take its place.” 2 

And again : 

“ Men who live under the Gospel are more uncharitable, more 
irascible, more greedy, more avaricious than they were before 
as Papists.” 3 

Even Erasmus, who had at first favoured Luther’s move- 
ment, was soon disillusioned. Thus he writes : 

“ The New Gospel has at least the advantage of showing us 
a new race of men, haughty, impudent, cunning, blasphemous 
. . . quarrellers, seditious, furious, to whom I have, to say 
truth, so great an antipathy that if I knew a place in the world 
free of them, I would not hesitate to take refuge therein.” 4 

These Effects not Temporary but Permanent. —That these 
evil effects of Protestantism were not merely temporary — ■ 
the accidental results of the excitement and confusion which 

1 Cf. Janssen, op. cit., vol. v, pp. 278 ff, and Baudrillart, op. cit., 
chap, viii, where numerous quotations and references are given. 

2 Quoted in Baudrillart, op. cit., p. 244, from Luther’s works (edit. 
Walch, vol. vii, p. 2727). 

3 lb. (edit. Watch, vol. xiii, p. 2193). 

* 76 ., p. 233 (quoted from Erasmus, Ep. lxviii, p. 503). 



are peculiar to a stage of transition (although they were no 
doubt intensified thereby) — is shown from present-day 
statistics. The condition of domestic morality is usually 
best indicated by the statistics of divorce, and of illegitimate 
births, 1 and by the proportion of legitimate children to the 
number of marriages ; while statistics of general criminality, 
where they can be had, would convey a fair idea of the 
individual and public morality in any given place. Accord- 
ing to these tests Protestant countries are at the present 
day much inferior to Catholic countries in domestic and 
public morality. 

Protestant and Catholic Countries Compared. — The follow- 
ing examples will help to illustrate this : 

Italy, Spain and Ireland are perhaps the most Catholic 
countries of the world, while Britain, the United States of 
America, with Denmark and Scandinavia, are the most 
Protestant. Legalised divorce does not exist at all (1930-31) 
in any country of the former group. It exists in all the 
countries of the latter group ; and the number of divorces 
is increasing year by year. In England and Wales there 
were 3,740 divorces in 1928, being about one divorce to 
every 114 marriages. In the United States of America the 
number of divorces in 1916 was 112,031, being one divorce 
to every 10 marriages. Ten years later (viz., in 1926), the 
number of divorces reached the appalling total of 181,000, 
being about one to every seven marriages. 2 The statistics 
of illegitimate births tell a similar tale. Thus in 1927 the 
proportion of illegitimate births was 44 per 1,000 for 
England and Wales, and 29 per 1,000 for the Irish Free 

Again, the Irish Free State has a very high proportion 
of births to marriages, one of the highest in Europe. 
England, where the birth-rate has now fallen to nearly 
16 per 1,000, has the lowest birth-rate in the world as 
compared with the marriage rate. While all Catholic 
countries have a fairly high birth-rate, the birth-rate is so 
low in some Protestant or non-Catholic countries that the 

1 The argument from statistics of illegitimacy, although not without 
value, is not in itself conclusive. 

2 Cf. Encyclopedia Brittanica (14th edit., 1929), vol. vii, pp. 458, 459, 
also the Registrar General's Statistical Review, 1927. 



human race there is hastening to extinction. This is in 
fact what has occurred to the original Protestant settlers 
in the Now England States of America, who have practically 
disappeared, being in large measure supplanted by the Irish, 
the Canadians and others. 

Exact statistics of criminality are difficult to obtain ; 
and trustworthy comparisons between different countries 
are more difficult still. Anyone, however, who remembers 
the constant recurrence of the ceremony of presenting 
“ white gloves ” to the judges of the criminal courts in 
Ireland owing to the complete absence of criminal indict- 
ments a few years ago, when the country was in its normal 
state, and contrasts this fact with the records of the criminal 
courts of Great Britain and U.S.A. may draw his own 
conclusions . 1 

Conclusion. — It has been not inaptly said that “ greed, 
robbery, oppression, rebellion, repression, wars, devastation, 
depredation, would be a fitting inscription on the tomb of 
early Protestantism .” 2 We shall see that the later effects 
of the new religion, though not so violent or dramatic, have 
fulfilled the promise of its earlier years. 

1 Cf. on this subject : C. Owen — King Crime (Benn, London, 1931), for 
an account of the apalling prevalence of organised crime in U.S.A. The 
author calculates that out of the 120 millions of inhabitants in U.S.A. 
at least one million are actively engaged in crime or directly dependent 
for their livelihood on criminal activities. See also infra, chap, xvi, art. 3. 

*Cf. Cath. Encyclop., art. “Protestantism," p. 501. 



Art. 1 — What is Liberalism ? 

Meaning of the Term. — The terms Liberal and Liberalism, 
derived from the Latin word liber (free) mean etymologically 
such personal qualities or style of acting and thinking as 
may be thought worthy of a freeman. Thus we speak of 
a “ liberal education,” a “ broad-minded liberal disposition,” 
etc. In one of its derived meanings Liberalism may also 
denote a political system or tendency that is opposed to 
centralisation and absolutism. Liberalism in this sense 
may be worthy of praise, and has nothing in it opposed to 
Catholic principles. The champions of unchristian Liberalism 
frequently utilize these meanings of the term to confuse 
issues and obscure the real character of their policy. 

The term is used here, however, in quite a different sense. 
Since the end of the 18th century the word Liberalism has 
been generally applied, as we apply it here, to denote those 
tendencies and principles in intellectual, religious, political 
and economic life, which imply a partial or total emanci- 
pation of man from the obligations of the supernatural 
order and even from the authority of God. 

Liberalism is the direct outcome of Protestantism 2 of 
which its principles and policy may be regarded as the 
ripened fruit. It is the root cause of the evils comprised 
in what is usually styled the “ Social Question ” ; and is at 
present the greatest obstacle to social prosperity and peace. 

General Character of Unchristian Liberalism. — Unchristian 
Liberalism, or rather the movement which it embodies, is 
not unfrequently referred to, especially by French Catholic 
writers, as the Revolution. It is also sometimes called the 

J Cf. Cath. hncyclop., vol. ix, art. “ Liberalism " ; and Diet. Apologetique 
de la Foi Catholique, vol. iii, art. “ Liberalisme.” 

2 Cf. Supra, chap, viii, art i, for the words of .Leo XIII. See also Leo XIII 
Immortale Dei , p. 56. 

10 5 



Anti-Christian Movement. It is in fact essentially re- 
volutionary and anti-Christian, and has been repeatedly 
condemned as such by the Holy See during the past two 
centuries . 1 Resting on an assumption of man’s innate in- 
dependence of any authority or rule of conduct or belief 
outside himself, Liberal teaching rejects or ignores the whole 
supernatural order, including divine revelation, a divinely 
instituted Church, and man’s predestination to eternal life. 
Without formally committing themselves to a positive 
denial of God’s existence or His possible claims on men in 
their individual capacity, Liberals repudiate all divine 
authority in public and social life, which, according to their 
ideals should be organised and conducted as if God did not 
exist ; much less will they take account of the teaching 
of Our Divine Lord, or acknowledge the authority of the 
Church which He has founded. Absolute and unlimited 
freedom of thought, of religion, and of conscience ; un- 
checked freedom of speech and of the press, freedom in 
political and social institutions is, according to the prin- 
ciples of unchristian Liberalism, man’s inalienable right. 

These principles, which, by their repudiation of divine 
authority are in opposition even to the natural law, are 
applied by Liberals to moral, political and economic life. 
Modern systems of state-craft, of civic organisation, of inter- 
national relations, etc., have been shaped largely under their 
influence. Hence Liberalism tends strongly to reproduce 
in society the most repulsive features of pagan civilisation. 
Liberal tenets and the consequences to which they lead 
are in fact more unnatural than those of the pagans who, 
although worshipping false gods, acknowledge the claims of 

Relation of Unchristian Liberalism to other Social Forces. 

— One of the strongest driving forces behind the Liberalist 
movement during the past two centuries has been Free- 
masonry, permeated and reinforced as it is by international 
Judaism. Socialism, wdiich is opposed to many of the 
economic and political principles of Liberalism, is in harmony 

1 Cf. Cath. Encyclop. and Diet. Apolog. de la Foi Catholique, loc. cit. ; 
also G. Michon — Les Documents Pontificaux sur la Democratic et la Societe 
Moderne (Paris, Les Editions Ridier, 7 Place St. Sulpice, 1927). 



with it in its materialistic view of life, and in its assumption 
of man’s emancipation from a supernatural or divine law. 
The political and economic doctrines which now prevail in 
Italy, under the Fascist regime, are in some respects a 
reaction against Liberalism. 

The Catholic Church, with its hierarchical constitution, 
and its God-given power of authoritative teaching, forms 
the only effective barrier against the progress of Liberalism. 
This fact has always been frankly recognised by the Liberal 
leaders. Voltaire’s impious cry : Ecrasez 1’ Infame (“ Crush 
the infamous monster,” viz., the Catholic Church), has been 
re-echoed down to our own day by Voltaire’s disciples, who 
openly proclaim it their aim to “ put out the lights of 
Heaven,” and who would fain believe that Catholic prin- 
ciples and authority are everywhere, even in Ireland, doomed 
to the fate of “ icebergs in warm water.” The words of 
Charles Bradlaugh (d. 1891), a professed atheist and one of 
the founders of the present secularist or extreme Liberalist 
movement in Britain, are equally significant : — “ One element 
of danger in Europe is the approach of the Roman Catholic 
Church towards meddling in political life. . . . There is 
danger to freedom of thought, to freedom of speech, to 
freedom of action. The great struggle in this country 
(England) will not be between Free thought and the Church 
of England . . . but between Free thought and Rome.” 1 

Division of Subject. — In order to convey a general but 
connected idea of unchristian Liberalism which, like Pro- 
testantism, is often vague and somewhat intangible, par- 
taking more of the nature of a spirit permeating modern 
society than of a definite and consistent system of social 
organisation and thought, we shall give a brief sketch first, 
of intellectual Liberalism, usually called Rationalism or 
Naturalism, which forms the philosophic ground-work of 
the Liberal movement ; secondly, of political Liberalism or 
Secularism upon whose principles the constitutions of most 
modern states are modelled, and finally of economic 
Liberalism, which reached its apogee in the 19th century, 
and is closely allied with modern capitalism. 

1 Quoted in Cath. Encyclop. in art. " Secularism,” irom C. Bradlaugh's 
Speeches, ii, p. 412. 



Art. 2 — Rationalism or Naturalism 1 

Origin of Modern Naturalism. — The spirit and tendency 
of the unchristian “ Humanism ” of the 15th century, and 
still more the principle put forward by the 16th century 
Reformers that every individual has the right of inter- 
preting divine revelation according to his own judgment 
without the aid of a teaching Church, opened the way, 
first to a repudiation of all supernatural revelation, and 
then to atheism and materialism. 

During the second half of the 17th century there arose 
in England a school of freethinkers and Deists whose 
teachings without spreading, for the time being, to any 
great extent in England itself, exerted much influence in 
France and the Continental countries. A few of these 
Deists remained nominally Christian, but most rejected 
completely all supernatural religion ; and some threw doubt 
even on the existence of God. Among the best known were 
John Hobbes, author of the Leviathan (1651), John Locke 
author of the Essay on the Human Understanding ( d . 1704) ; 
Collins, Roland, Tyndal, Charles Blount, Lord Bolingbroke, 
and later on, Hume and Berkeley. 

Protestant Germany gave birth to a similar Rationalistic 
school, founded on the teachings of Leibnitz, Wolf and 
others, whose names were afterwards overshadowed by that 
of Emmanuel Kant, the greatest of German Rationalistic 
philosophers, and the real founder of the modem German 
Rationalistic School. 

Its Spread in France. — -France, however, was, or soon 
became, the real centre of the Naturalist movement. The 
ground had been prepared there by the Gallican and Janssen- 
istic propaganda of the preceding generation and by the 
rationalistic tendencies of Descartes’ philosophy. But the 
principal cause of the rapid spread of the movement was the 
moral corruption which had eaten, like a canker, into the 
wealthy classes, the aristocracy, and even a considerable 
portion of the clergy. 

1 Cf. Belliot, op. cit., i iere partie, chap, ii, sect, ii, pp. 47-54 ; Catholic 
Encyclopedia , arts. “ Deism,” “ Liberalism/’ “ Encyclopedists,” 
“ Materialism,” ” Secularism.” MacCafErcy — History of the Catholic Church 
from the Renaissance to the French Revolution, vol. i, chap, viii, pp. 345-371, 
Mourret, op. cit., tome vi, “ Ancien Regime,” pp. 470—480, and tome vii, 
“ L’Eglise et la Revolution,” pp. 426-442. 



Voltaire brought from England the doctrines of the 
English freethinkers and Deists, and with Jean Jacques 
Rousseau, became the most powerful apostle of the new 
ideas. Soon a whole galaxy of brilliant writers appeared, 
filled with the spirit of Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau and 
Voltaire. Ecclesiastical authority, religion, revelation, all 
the cherished ideals and principles of Christianity were now 
persistently held up to ridicule in poetry, romance, drama, 
letters, historical and philosophical treatises, written mostly 
in a brilliant and attractive style. 

The Encyclopedic. — The extreme rationalistic doctrine, 
which denies the existence of God, and the immortality of 
the human soul, rejects the moral law, and proclaims war 
against all authority, was summarised in the celebrated 
Encyclopedic. This monumental work, the first of its kind, 
appeared about the middle of the 18th century, under the 
editorship of Diderot and d’Alembert, and immediately 
secured unprecedented popularity. In the Encyclopedic 
all kinds of subjects were treated and discussed, sometimes 
with a certain appearance of fairness and impartiality, 
but always with the underlying purpose of discrediting 
Christianity. Diderot, in whose mind the virtue of chastity 
is only the result of ignorant prejudice, sketched an ideal 
society whose perfection lies in the complete gratification 
of the sexual passions, while the professed ambition of 
Naigeon, one of Diderot’s disciples, was to “ strangle the 
last of the priests with the entrails of the last of the kings.” 1 
This anti-religious campaign in France, resulting in the 
excesses and religious persecution associated with the 
French Revolution, was the first great effort of the Liberal 
anti-Christian revolt, which has continued to spread and 
gain strength down to our own day. 

Modern Phases of Naturalism. —During the 19th century 
the Rationalistic movement manifested itself in the 
pseudo-philosophic theories of Pantheism, Materialism 
and Positivism, culminating in the Modernism, Neo-Gnos- 
ticism, Theosophism, Christian Scientism, etc., of the 
present day. The movement has gathered into its wake 

1 Cited in Belliot, op. cit., p. 52. 



most of the perverted, intellectual forces of Europe. It 
has spread more or less into every country, but has taken 
deepest hold in France, Britain, the Protestant portions of 
Germany, the United States of America, and the British 

Pantheism, Materialism and Positivism. — The Pantheistic 
philosophy of Kant and Hegel in Germany, tending to make 
each individual a kind of god unto himself, and setting up 
actual fact, the fait accompli, as the sole criterion of what 
is reasonable and right, leads, when applied to social life, 
to a glorification of brute force ; and contains besides a 
philosophic ground-work for the most extreme and selfish 

The whole philosophy of Materialism, as propounded by 
Haeckel, Huxley, Spencer and others, and especially the 
theories of the Evolutionists, including those of the “ struggle 
for life ” and “ the survival of the fittest,” as well as 
Nietzche’s theory of the “ superman ” for whose sake other 
men are born to toil, have similar practical applications. 

Positivism, which was first put forward by Auguste Comte 
(d. 1857), was widely adopted by French and English 
Rationalists, such as J. S. Mill, during the second half of 
the 19th century. In this system a new deity is set up 
for men to worship and serve. That deity is none other 
than Humanity. Positivism, while encouraging a vague 
and ineffective philanthropy or humanitarianism, has a 
predominant tendency, like all forms of Rationalism, to 
an extreme and unnatural individualism. For a Positivist 
of the average type tends to regard himself as representing 
Humanity, and consequently to consider himself, and not 
God, as the summit and centre of the Universe, towards 
whose glorification all his interests and efforts must 

Modernism and Neo-Gnosticism. — Modernism, Neo-Gnos- 
tieism, Kabbalism, Theosophism, and Spiritism, are at 
present perhaps the most dangerous and insidious forms of 
Rationalism and Naturalism. The Modernists, who aimed 
at remaining within the Church’s fold while working to 
undermine her teaching, were condemned by Pius X in 



1907. 1 They deny, or strive to whittle down and explain 
away by specious reasoning, everything supernatural, in- 
cluding miracles, divine revelation, supernatural grace, etc. 

Neo-Gnosticism essays to get rid of a deity distinct from 
man and to whom man is responsible. Hence the votaries 
of the Neo-Gnostic theory deny the dogma of Creation. 
All things, according to their philosophy, are in some way 
or other emanations of the divine essence. Thus man is 
practically identified with the deity, with the result that 
whatever he thinks or does must be right and good. 

The Neo-Gnostic philosophy is apparently the same as, 
or very similar to, that of the ancient Gnostics so often 
referred to in the writings of the early Fathers of the Church. 
This philosophy has reappeared at different times in the 
history of the Church, assuming various Shapes, but re- 
maining always substantially the same, and invariably 
tending to supply an apparent justification for the un- 
restrained gratification of man’s worst passions. It was, 
under varying forms, the underlying philosophy of the 
Manichaeans of the 5th century, of the Albigenses of the 
12th century, of the Waldenses, etc., of later times. It 
was the heresy, too, of which the Templars of the 15th 
century were rightly or wrongly accused. 

The doctrines of Gnosticism and Neo-Gnosticism are 
closely associated with the occult practices and beliefs of 
certain pre-Christian sectaries of the East which have 
always attracted minds of a certain perverted type, and seem 
to show strong indications of the direct influence of the 
evil one. Gnosticism and its different manifestations are 
not improbably the heresy or philosophy to which St. Paul 
is said to refer in his First Epistle to Timothy : In the 
last times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to 
spirits of error and doctrines of devils, speaking lies in 
hypocrisy, and having the conscience seared.' 1 

Kabbalism and Theosophism. — The Kabbalists and Theo- 
sophists are closely associated with the Neo-Gnostics, and 
their theories are only different manifestations of the same 
desire to free man from all supernatural law, and even from 

1 Litt. Encyl. Pascendi Dominici Gregis (Cf, Juris Canonici Fontes, 
vol. iii, p. 690). 

8 1 Tim. iv. 1, 2. 



the rule and authority of God. Kabbalism, which betrays 
the Jewish influence in the modern Naturalistic movement, 
would found its Rationalistic doctrines on ancient Jewish 
tradition, intermingled with Pagan and Gnostic philosophy. 

Theosophy relies for all knowledge, and especially for 
knowledge of the Deity, upon some kind of interior revelation 
or illumination, the result of the study and contemplation 
of secret rites and symbols. In some of its forms or teach- 
ings, Theosophy seems to contain a blend of Pantheism, 
Materialism and the doctrine of the transmigration of souls. 
It is closely allied to Brahminism and Buddhism, and tends 
to teach some kind of universal faith which would be, as 
it were, a common denominator in which all religions and 
creeds would be at one. For, according to the Theosophists, 
all religions of all times, including Christianity, are but 
different manifestations of the one true religion, which 
Divine Wisdom reveals under varying forms suited to 
different times, places and persons. The Theosophist 
sectaries are much addicted to spiritism, magic, unlawful 
hypnotism, etc., which they substitute for religious worship. 

Their Profoundly Anti-Christian Character. — All these 
phases of Naturalism are closely associated with the intensive 
anti-Christian movement of to-day. The propagation of 
the Neo-Gnostic pseudo-philosophy, as well as that of the 
Kabbalists, the Illuminists, the Theosophists, the Spiritists, 
etc., is in fact the most dangerous phase of the war now 
waged throughout the world against the Church by the 
Masonic and Jewish sectaries. Their philosophy cuts 
deeper into Christian life and affects more fatally the 
Christian organisation of society than their purely political 
and economic activities, as it tends to destroy the very 
foundations of all Christian morality and belief. 

Art. 3 - — Political Liberalism, 1 

Introduction. — Before proceeding to sketch the nature 
and history of political Liberalism, or Secularism, as it is 

1 Cf. Pius IX — Quanta Cura, 1864 ( Juris Canonici Fontes, vol. ii, p. 993) ; 
Leo XIII — Inmiortale Dei (Christian Constitution of States), 1885 and, 
Libertas, Pmstantissimum (Human Liberty), 1888 ; Gath. Encyclop.. 
loc. cit., especially art. “ Liberalism,” pp. 212-214 ; Dictionaire Apolog, 



sometimes named, it will be useful to recall what we have 
already touched on in treating of the civil organisation, 
and political principles of mediaeval Europe . 1 The whole 
political and social structure centred round, or rather re- 
posed on, the principle that God was its Author; and His 
divine ordinance was recognised as the fundamental sanction 
of all valid rule and the basis of all social and civil obligations. 
The general acceptance of this principle secured reverence 
and obedience towards the government while setting strict 
limits to its power, and affording safeguards to the subjects 
against oppression. When, on the other hand, this principle 
is ignored, or in other words, when God is eliminated from 
the political organism, and His rights rejected in favour of 
what are termed the “ Rights of Man ” (as occurs in the 
Liberal system), the foundations of legitimate authority 
are taken away ; there is no fixed principle to set limits to 
the competency and scope of the ruling powers ; and no 
real safeguard against tyranny and abuse of authority. 

Principles of Political Liberalism. — Leo XIII summarises 
as follows the main political principles of Liberalism : 

“ The Naturalists lay down that all men have the same rights 
and Eire in every respect of equal and like condition ; that each 
one is naturally free ; that no one has the right to command 
another ; that it is an act of violence to require men to obey 
any authority other than that which is obtained from themselves. 
According to this, therefore, all things belong to the free people ; 
power is held by the command of the people, so that whenever 
the popular will changes, rulers may be lawfully deposed ; and 
the source of all rights and civil duties is either in the multitude, 
or in the governing authority, when the latter is constituted 
according to the latest doctrines. It is also held that the State 
should be without God ; that in the various forms of religion 

de la Foi Catholique, art. “ Liberalisme,” col. 1822-1841 ; Belliot, op. cit., 
pp. 424-442 ; Castelein — Droit Naittrel, These 20, pp. 737-765 ; Riquet — 
Sa Majestic la Loi (reprinted from two articles in Les Etudes, April, 1925, 
and published by the Ligue des Droits du Religieux 36, Rue du Mont- 
parnasse, Paris) ; Robertson — Readings in European History, vol. ii, 
chap, xxxv, pp. 409-411 ; (Declaration of the Rights of Man) ; Cambridge 
Modern History, vol. vi, ch. xxiii (written from the Liberal and non- 
Catholic standpoint) ; Palgrave — Dictionary of Political Economy, arts. 
" Hobbes,” " Locke,” “ Rousseau,” etc. , 

1 Cf. Supra, chap. v. 




there is no reason why one should have precedence of another, 
and that they are all to occupy the same place.” 1 * * 

Hence Political Liberalism may be described as implying 
the following main principles : 

I. Everyone has an inalienable right to freedom of 
thought, of speech, and of action, a freedom which may be 
curtailed only where its exercise would clash directly with 
the rights of other individuals. Besides, no one can bo 
bound to submit io any authority in which he himself has 
no share. 

II. Hence the rights of God over human society are 
rejected or ignored. Rulers must base their jurisdiction 
not on divine authority but solely upon a supposed dele- 
gation from the people. In other words, the “ Sovereignty 
of the People ” usurps the position of the sovereignty of 

III. Religion is relegated from public life into the domain 
of each one’s individual conscience. Hence there is no 
public and official recognition of God’s supreme authority. 
The laws of Christianity as such are ignored ; and the Church 
is no longer a public and legal institution. 

IV. Hence, too, the supposed “ will of the people,” may 
prevail against the law of God, as manifested in the divinely 
established organisation of the human family, or the God- 
given rights of the individual person or the constitution of 
the Church which God has founded. The epigrammatic 
phrase : “ A nation has a right to do wrong,” thus ex- 
presses a fundamental principle of political Liberalism. 

V. As the people can exercise their authority only through 
representatives elected by a majority of votes, and as these 
representatives in turn usually function by the same means, 
this unlimited “ sovereignty of the people ” is in practice 
the sovereignty of a majority whether real or supposed. 
It is in fact the tyranny of brute force under a new guise— 
more dangerous than the tyranny of a military dictatorship. 

1 Humanum Genus, 1884 (Cf. The Great Encyclicals of Leo XIII, p. 96. 

Bcnziger, New York, 1913) ; cf. also Leo XIII — Libertas, Prcestantissimwn, 

PP. 7 8 , 79 , 88, 9 i. 



because more easily veiled. Hence Leo XIII again refers 
to the Liberal doctrine of authority as follows : 

“ Authority is severed from the true and natural principle 
whence it derives all its efficacy for the common good ; and the 
law determining what is right to do is at the mercy of a majority. 
Now this is simply a road leading straight to tyranny.” 1 

VI. The State having now acknowledged responsibility to 
safeguard the eternal laws of God, no longer recognises its 
duty to prevent the spread of false or irreligious doctrines 
or to suppress public incentives to vice except in as far 
as the interests of mere public order require. 

Its History — Hobbes and Locke. — The English philosopher, 
John Hobbes, already referred to, may be regarded as the 
founder of modem political Liberalism. He wrote at the 
period of the Puritan Revolution against the Stuarts, and 
in his two treatises, De Give (1642) and the Leviathan (1651), 
he upheld the theory of government’s absolute and irrespon- 
sible power. John Locke, Hobbe’s fellow-countryman, and 
his successor in the same school of thought, maintained in 
his Letters on Toleration (1689) and his Essay on Civil 
Government (1 690) that the governed possess a permanent and 
inalienable right to rebel when they so wish. The foundation 
of the error in case of both these writers was the same. 
Both theorists eliminate from the civic union the essential 
element of the authority and law of God. 

According to Hobbes, men are naturally free, and all seek 
exclusively their own interests. Hence, men lived at first 
in a state of perpetual war. Then, as a practical expedient, 
they compacted to form society, to which, as represented 
by its rulers, unlimited power over the individual members 
was confided. This sovereign body Hobbes called the 
Leviathan, the monster of limitless strength and power. 
As a logical inference from his rejection of divine authority 
in the constitution and government of states, Hobbes rejected 
the distinction between the temporal and spiritual power 
and denied the independent rights of the Church ; for “ a 
man cannot obey two masters, and a house divided against 
itself cannot stand.” Hence, whatever worship or religion 
exists in a State must be completely subject to the civil 

1 Libcrtas Preestantissimum, p. 8o ; cl. also p. 79. 



power, and no dogma can be appealed to against a law of 
the State. 1 

In Locke’s theory the liberty which men had before the 
supposed original social contract remains with them and is 
inalienable, “ for no one can ever be subjected to authority 
without his own consent.” But as this universal consent 
can scarcely ever be had, the only remedy against anarchy 
is that the majority must include the rest. Hence it is a 
law both of nature and of reason that the act of the majority 
is the act of the whole.” 2 

The principles of Hobbes and Locke were more fully 
elaborated by the 18th century founders of the French 
Liberal school and those of the German Aufklarung. Of 
the latter, Emmanuel Kant (d. 1804) has had the widest 
influence. In Kant’s view, man, as a moral being, is “ a 
law to himself and an end to himself, a cause but not an 
effect.” 3 Hence the civil union whose object is to secure 
liberty for all must presuppose an implied contract as a 
necessary foundation of its authority. 

Rousseau. — The principal founders of French Liberalism 
were Calvinists, mostly natives of Geneva. Jean Jacques 
Rousseau (1712-1778) the best known of these, wrote about 
half a century after Locke. His great work, Le Gontrat 
Social, appeared in 1761. Like Locke and Hobbes, Rousseau 
was a Deist. He professed a vague belief in a “ Being, 
whatever He may be, who moves the universe, and orders 
all things.” Like his English predecessors, Rousseau bases 
civil authority upon a supposed social contract ; and, like 
Locke, he required the general consent of the governed as 
an essential condition of authority. Hence a republic is 
the best form of government, because it is the most sensitive 
to the desires of the people. Rousseau develops more fully 
than Locke the doctrine of man’s inalienable independence 
of all authority outside himself. In his view all men are 
naturally free and good. In fact, all are by nature kings. 
And freedom, goodness and kingship are, according to him, 

1 Cambridge Modern History, loc. cit., pp. 785-795. 

1 lb., p. 810 ; see also Palgrave’s Dictionary of Political Economy, vol. ii, 
P- 633. 

3 Cf. Palgrave, op. cit., vol. ii, p. 501 (Kant) ; and pp. 79 fl (German 



incompatible with submission to rule, except as a result of 
previous free consent. 1 Since the beginning of the 19th 
century, Rousseau’s theory of man’s essential independence 
of all authority has been further developed. For, according 
to the Positivists, such as Auguste Comte and other modern 
sectaries to whom we have already alluded, all men are 
gods, or at least every man is a god to himself. 

Mme. de Necker and Mme. de Stael. — Contemporary with 
Rousseau during the second half of the 18th century there 
arose among French literary circles a widespread movement 
of ideas inspired mainly by Calvinism and promoted and 
fostered in its more advanced forms in the Masonic lodges 
which were then spread everywhere over France. Mme. 
Necker and her daughter, Mme. de Stael, Calvinists and 
natives of Geneva, were the central figures in these literary 
circles. Mme. de Stael, who was closely associated with 
Mirabeau and the Constitutional Party of the French 
Revolution, is the connecting link between the Liberalism 
of the 18th and that of the 19th century. She rejects as 
absurd the Christian principle that human authority is 
derived from God ; as well as the doctrine of a divinely 
founded Church forming a perfect society independent of 
the State. 

Declaration of the Rights of Man. — All these doctrines 
took definite political shape in the celebrated Declaration 
of the Rights of Man which was drawn up by the French 
National Assembly (1789) as the foundation of the new 
constitution. This document, which implies a definite 
abandonment of the Christian political ideals, has had 
immense influence in shaping the constitutions of modem 
States. According to the “ Declaration of the Rights of 
Man,” the principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in 
the people ; law is only the expression of the general will ; 
liberty, which is every man’s inalienable right, consists in 
the freedom to do everything which injures no one, a 
limitation which can be determined in the concrete only 
by the law (which itself is only an expression of the will of 
the people) ; no one may be disquieted for his religious 

1 Cf. Palgravc, op. cit., vol. iii, p. 330. 



views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the 
public order established by law, etc. 1 Thus the divine 
authority, or the Will of God, upon which in the mediaeval 
Christian ideal all legitimate rule must rest, is definitely 
eliminated ; and the people, fickle, ignorant, weak as they 
may be, are enthroned in God’s place. The Rights of God 
are supplanted in the social order by the Rights of Man. 

These principles manifestly imply a denial of all real 
authority (for men cannot be their own superiors). They 
are in fact the underlying philosophy upon which all the 
subversive movements of modem times are based. The 
destruction of the established order, which accompanied 
the French Revolution ; the confiscation of Church pro- 
perty ; the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, by which the 
Church in France was subjected to the civil power, were 
the natural outcome of the principles embodied in the 
“ Declaration of the Rights of Man.” 

Prevalence of Political Liberalism. — Under the influence 
of France and England the Liberal movement spread during 
the 19th century over most of Europe and America. The 
political principles associated with it now prevail in France, 
Mexico, Portugal and Russia, and to a very large extent in 
the United States of America and the countries of the 
British Empire. 2 Upon these principles, too, the con- 
stitutions of the new States, which were set up as a result 
of the great European war, have been based. These same 
principles have, besides, impressed themselves more or less 
deeply on the laws and administrations of very many other 
States, such as Spain, whose constitutions still (1931) 
remain predominantly Christian. 

Art. 4 — Effects of Political Liberalism on Public Life 

Revolutionary Movements. — Liberalism is essentially 
opposed to Christianity. In the case of governments which 
have fallen completely under its influence, this opposition 
shows itself in a contempt for the principles of Christian 

1 For the text of the document, cf. Robertson — Readings in European 
History, vol. ii, pp. 410-411. 

2 Cf. The Clergy Review, March, 1931, pp. 258 ff, for an account of the 
gradual de-Christianisation of the English Legal Code, which was finally 
accomplished in 1917. 



morality, and sometimes even in a systematic persecution 
of the Catholic Church. In the case of Catholic States, such 
as Spain, Italy, Portugal and the States of Spanish-America, 
which were not much affected by Protestantism, and where 
the Catholic tradition was strong enough to resist the 
peaceful penetration of the Liberal movement, the intro- 
duction of Liberalism, with its Masonic alignments has 
always tended to produce Revolution and social upheavals. 
In fact, most of the revolutions that have taken place in 
Europe and America for the past century and a half have 
been to a very large extent the offspring of Liberalism and 

Degradation of Public Life. — Egoism and sordid ideals ; 
oppression of the weak and a cynical disregard of social 
justice ; the spread of corruption and vice by means of the 
press ; a free and unscrupulous use of slander, corruption 
and fraud in political life — these and such like traits in- 
variably accompany the introduction of Liberalism into a 

That it should be so is inevitable. When once the claims 
of God and the authority of God’s law are refused their due 
place in the legislature and administration of the State, 
the very basis of public morality is removed ; and human 
enactments or coercive force become the only, or the main, 
principles of discrimination between right and wrong. 
Laws and administrative activities injurious to family life, 
or opposed to the rights of the Church, being no longer 
regarded as essentially invalid and unconstitutional, sooner 
or later force an entrance into the State. The obligations 
of social justice, charity and Christian patriotism cease to 
have a clear meaning and are gradually forgotten. The 
principles of naturalism find expression in the current 
literature, the press, the theatre, and the cinema, with the 
result that the whole tone of social life is gradually lowered 
to the non-Christian level. The administration of the State 
falls under the control of unscrupulous political adventurers 
who, while pretending to rule in the people’s name, abuse 
their power for personal aggrandisement, while the people 
themselves arc enslaved and ground down by exorbitant 

Hence, Leo XIII, speaking of the public evils which 



result from the “ widespread perversion of the primary 
truths on which, as on its basis, human society rests,” 
refers in a special way to the 

“ Reckless mismanagement, waste and misappropriation of 
public funds ; and the shamelessness of those who, full of 
treachery, make semblance of being champions of country and 
freedom and every kind of right.” 1 

Perversion of the Idea of Liberty. — (a) The True Idea . — 
Another element in the demoralising influence of political 
Liberalism is the perverted idea of human liberty upon 
which the Liberals found their political system. According 
to Christian teaching and true philosophy, the liberty, to 
which everyone has a natural right, differs essentially from 
a licence to do evil. It implies, indeed, freedom from unjust 
constraint and the safe and unimpeded enjoyment of one’s 
natural and acquired rights . 2 But it does not mean to 
imply a licence to act or speak or write falsely or sinfully, 
or a right to do anything injurious to the public good. 
Again, true Christian liberty is quite consistent with due 
submission to all lawful authority ; and authority may be 
lawful even though the subjects have no voice in its exercise. 
For while it is true that everyone has a right to be governed 
justly, and that civil authority should be exercised solely 
for the good of the people, it does not follow that everyone 
has a natural much less an indefeasible right to a share in 
the government. 

Hence, too, the Church, which has always been the 
champion and upholder of true liberty, has no special pre- 
dilections regarding the form of government (viz., whether 
it be monarchical or democratic), provided the conditions 
required for just rule be fulfilled. Neither can it be shown 
that the democratic form of government (viz., that in which 
the actual rulers are elected from time to time by the 
popular vote) is always, or even usually, the best, or that 
it contains any sure guarantee against tyranny and the 
oppression of the masses of the people . 3 

1 Inscrutabili, 1878, pp. 1, 2. 

2 Cf. Leo XIII — Libertas Prcestantissimum, pp. 71 IF. 

3 Cf. Donat — Ethica Specialis, sec. iii, cap. iv. In this connection it may 
be noted that the term Christian Democracy does not at all refer to the 
form of the Government, but rather to its character. It implies that civil 



(b) The Perverted Liberal View. — According to the Liberal 
teaching, on the other hand, liberty is bound up essentially 
with the political franchise as if it were against reason that 
one should submit to an authority in which he does not 
himself share. Furthermore, it includes the right of pro- 
fessing and preaching false religions ; of propagating false 
philosophy ; of speaking or writing what is false or injurious 
to public morals ; in a word, it implies a licence to do any- 
thing that does not directly disturb the peace or violate 
commutative justice even though it may injure the religious 
belief or morality of the people. And to liberty, thus 
falsely defined, the Liberals assort that every citizen has an 
inalienable right. 1 

Under cover of such principles as these, vice is freely 
propagated by means of an immoral literature, a licentious 
press, and a degrading cinema and theatre. The drink 
traffic and the sporting and betting syndicates are allowed 
to function freely under the protection of the law, to the 
detriment and degradation of the people. The principle 
is acted upon, and sometimes openly proclaimed, that, in 
a free country, the public administration must not interfere 
with the liberty of the subject, even while lie is propagating 
ideas subversive of morality, or dangerous to the people’s 
faith ; or while, in the pursuit of unholy gain, he is pro- 
pagating the vices of drunkenness, idleness, gambling and 

Art. 5 — Liberal Catholicism 

What it Means. — A milder form of political Liberalism 
but one which has wrought much injury to the Church 
during the past century, is what is known as Liberal 
Catholicism. 2 This system was first formulated by the 
Abbe de Lamennais in L’ Avenir early in the 19th century, 

authority and social action are exercised, as Christian teaching requires, 
for the good of the masses of the people. In accordance with the 
Encyclical of Leo XIII — Graves de Communi (on Christian Democracy), 
January, 1901 (pp. 169 ff), the term Christian Democracy is now usually 
applied to indicate the great movement of Catholic Social Action (to be 
discussed in chap, xv infra), which is altogether non-political. Cf. Cath. 
Encyclop., vol. iv, art. “ Christian Democracy.” 

1 Cf. Leo. XIII, lb. 

2 The term Liberal Catholic is also sometimes applied in a loose sense 
to a Catholic who puts forward opinions favouring any of the false 
doctrines of unchristian Liberalism. 



and was defended for a while by such illustrious men as 
Lacordaire, Montalombert, Dupanloup, etc. 

The Liberal Catholics, while recognising that God is the 
ultimate source of civil authority, would regulate the 
relations between Church and State, and some other details 
in the social organism, in accordance with the more moderate 
Liberal principles as expounded by Benjamin Constant. 
In this system the Church and State would be completely 
divorced from each other. The civil power would profess 
no particular religion, and remain quite indifferent to 
religious interests, neither obstructing nor assisting the 
work of the Church. There would thus be a “ free Church 
in a free State,” and equal toleration for all religions whose 
tenets and practices do not interfere with the established 
social order . 1 

The system thus advocated as admissible, if not desirable 
and in complete accordance with Catholic principles, is 
practically identical with the system with which we are 
familiar in these countries since the cessation of the per- 
secution of the Church. 

Condemnation of Liberal Catholicism. — This system was 
condemned by Gregory XVI 2 and again by Pius IX . 3 
Leo XIII, who confirms the condemnation of Catholic 
Liberalism previously made, assigns the reasons why it is 
opposed to the Church’s teaching : 

Since the State is a moral person created by God, it must 
formally acknowledge God’s authority and give Him public 
worship in its corporate capacity. “ Justice therefore forbids, 
and reason itself forbids the State to be godless or to adopt a 

1 Cf. Dictionaire Apologetique de la Foi Catkolique, loc. tit., col. 1824 ff. 

2 Mirari Vos, 1832. Inter Prcscipuas, 1844. 

3 Quanta Cura, 1864. Pius IX also includes in the syllabus of condemned 
propositions (1864) the three following, which contain the central tenets 
of Liberal Catholicism : — * 

" 77. It is no longer desirable that the Catholic religion be considered 
as the only religion of the State to the exclusion of all others. 

“78. Hence in some Catholic countries provision is laudably made that 
immigrants coming into the country be allowed the free exercise of their 
own religion. 

**79. It is false to assert that freedom to practise any religion whatever 
and the full liberty to express openly and publish all opinions and ideas, 
tend to corrupt the morals and minds of the people or lead to religious 
indifference.’" Cf. Denzingcr — Enchiridion Symbolorum (nn. 1777-1780). 



line of action which would end in godlessness — namely, to treat 
the various religions (as they call them) alike, and to bestow 
upon them promiscuously equal rights and privileges.” 1 For 
God must be worshipped in the manner which He Himself has 
ordered, and in communion with the Chinch which He has 
established. Hence the true religion is the only one that should 
be recognised or assisted by the State. 

Toleration of False Religions. — Leo XIII, however, adds 
that Holy Church, allowing for human weakness, does not 
forbid public authority to tolerate error when a well- 
founded fear of a greater evil counsels such toleration : 

“For while holding it unlawful to place the various forms of 
divine worship on the same footing as the true religion, the 
Church does not condemn those rulers who, for the sake of 
securing some greater good or of hindering some great evil, 
allow custom or usage to be a kind of sanction for each kind of 
religion having place in the State.” 2 

He goes on, however, to say in another pronouncement 
on the same matter, that : 

“ The more a State is driven to tolerate evil, the further it is 
from perfection, and that the tolerance of evil which is dictated 
by prudence should be strictly confined to the limits which its 
justifying cause, the public welfare, requires." 3 

Hence, although existing false religions may be tolerated 
in a Catholic State, as far as may be necessary for the public 
peace, it does not follow that further false systems of 
propagation of unchristian or irreligious opinions or false or 
immoral teaching may be allowed. That would be contrary 
to the primary duty of the civil power, which is to safe- 
guard the religious, moral and intellectual interests of the 
people as well as to promote their material well-being. 

Art. 6 — Economic Liberalism 4 

Not Necessarily Connected with Material Progress. — The 

f a lse principles of unchristian Liberalism, which have . 

1 Libertas, Pr cestantissimum , p. 83 ; cf. also Immortale Dei, p. 48. 

2 Immortale Dei, pp. 62—63. 

3 Libertas, Prcestantissimum, pp. 89-90 ; cf. also Immortale Dei, p. 48. 
Symbolorum, nn. 1777-1780) ; cf. also Immortale Dei, p. 48. 

1 Cf. Antoine, op. cit., i iere partie, chap, viii (L'Ecole Liberale) ; Belliot - 
op. cit., pp. 304—310 (Ecole Liberate) ; Gide — History of Economic Doctrines , 
chaps, ii and iii ; Devas — Political Economy, bk. iii, chap, viii (Liberty and 



wrought such havoc during the past two centuries in the 
moral, intellectual and political spheres, have had in their 
application to economic life equally disastrous effects upon 
the material well-being of the people. In fact, all or most 
of the excessive poverty, insecurity and degradation which 
are outstanding features in our modern “ civilisation ” arc 
traceable to these principles and the social organisation 
founded upon them. 

It is sometimes assumed, especially by non-Catholic 
writers, that Liberalism has some kind of necessary con- 
nection with commerce and manufacture, as if these latter 
could flourish only under a Liberal regime. There is no 
foundation for such an assumption. Commerce and manu- 
facture had already made great progress in Europe during 
the 14th and 15tli centuries, under the financial predomin- 
ance of the great Catholic republics of Florence, Pisa, 
Venice and Genoa. These and the Hanseatic cities of 
Germany and the Low Countries attained at that time a 
degree of wealth, power and culture which, in some respects, 
has never been surpassed or perhaps equalled at any other 
period of European history. 

The invention of the mariner’s compass and of printing, 
the discovery of America and of the new route to the East, 
the colonial expansion of Spain and Portugal : all these and 
other causes 1 led to an immense increase of industrial and 
commercial activity centuries before the rise of Liberalism, 
and while the Catholic economic principles founded on 
Christian teaching, as expounded by St. Thomas and the 
great scholastic authors, still held undisputed sway. 2 

Mercantile System of Economics. — After the rise of Pro- 
testantism, however, and especially under the influence of 

Law), and par. ii, secs. 3-7 (pp. 648-655, 3rd edit.) ; Tawney, op. cit ., 
chaps, iii and iv ; O’Brien — Economic Effects of the Reformation, chap, ii ; 
Ingram — History of Political Economy, chap, v ; Palgrave, op. cit., arts. 
“ Turgot," “ Gournay,” “ Dutch School of Economics,” “ Physiocrats,” 
“Self-Interest,” “Adam Smith,” “ J. B. Say,” “Manchester School,” 
“ Free Trade,” etc. ; Larkin, op. cit., chaps, iii-v. 

J Cf. Tawney, op. cit., chap, ii (1). 

2 These Catholic principles were developed by different Catholic writers 
of the 14th and 15th centuries, and adapted to contemporary conditions. 
Thus Nicol Orcsme, Bishop of Lisieux (d. 1382), wrote a treatise on Usury 
and Exchange ( Tractatus de Origine , Natura, lure et Mutationibus M one- 
tar um), which can hold the field even to-day. (Cf. Ingram, op. cit., p. 36). 



Calvinism and of the new pagan ideals connected with the 
“ Renaissance,” non-Christian principles began to exert an 
ever-increasing influence in industrial and commercial 
relations. 1 What is known as the Mercantile System of 
economics arose in the 16th century. This system reached 
its highest development about the middle of the 17th 
century and continued to prevail till the rise of Liberalism. 
The Mercantile policy is closely associated with the Eliza- 
bethan legislation and the English Navigation and Corn 
Laws. Strafford and Cromwell in England as well as 
Colbert, the Minister of Louis XIV of France, are usually 
mentioned as the best-known representatives of the Mer- 
cantile economic policy. The prevalence of the system 
coincided with the growth of the power of England and 
Holland in the 17th century. 

The purely economic principles of Mercantilism were 
adapted to the building up of a strong military state. With 
this end in view, manufacture and commerce were assi- 
duously promoted, and the importance of protective tariffs 
and state intervention in individual activities very much 
emphasised. Each nation aimed at acquiring great quan- 
tities of the precious metals, which were regarded as 
synonymous with wealth. 

Such a view is manifestly false. W T ealth cannot be con- 
ceived in an exclusively objective sense and apart from the 
human persons, whose needs it is meant to satisfy. Besides, 
gold and silver are only one form of wealth understood 
even in its objective sense. There are numberless other 
commodities more essential for human needs than the 
precious metals, and these are also wealth which therefore 
has no essential connection with money, much less with 
silver or gold. 2 

The Mercantile economists erred, too, in another way. For 
while they made military power, national aggrandisement 
and colonial expansion the great objects of public endeavour, 
the well-being of the multitude, which in Christian philosophy 
is regarded as the primary end and purpose of all the State’s 
activities, was largely forgotten or neglected. Oppressive 

1 Cf. Tawney, op. cit., chaps, iii and iv. O’Brien, loc. cit. 

2 Cf. Palgrave, op. cit., vol. iii, pp. 660—661; Devas — Political Economy 
( see index under word “ Wealth ”) ; Gide, op. cit. (do.). 



taxes were imposed and inequitably distributed, the agri- 
cultural classes were impoverished, and the public finances 
became confused and chaotic. 1 

Rise of Economic Liberalism. — These evils helped to bring 
about the general abandonment of the Mercantile system ; 
and in the 18th century the system of economic Liberalism, 
which was still further removed from Christian ideals, began 
to prevail. In the Liberal system national aggrandisement 
was still regarded as the primary duty of the Government, 
which, however, now concentrated upon industrial rather 
than military power. The wealthy industrial and mer- 
cantile classes, which as a consequence of the Protestant 
upheaval had acquired excessive power, especially in 
Britain, found in the principles of Liberalism an excellent 
opportunity of exploiting the labour of the poor for personal 
and national aggrandisement. 

The Physiocrats. — Some of the principles of economic 
Liberalism had been previously put forward by the French 
Physiocrats. This small group of writers appeared in the 
second half of the 18th century, and were the real founders 
of the modem science of economics. The term, “ Physio- 
crat,” adapted from the Greek, means one who advocates 
the Rule of Nature. The Physiocrats were much influenced 
by the unchristian philosophy of Voltaire, Rousseau and 
the Encyclopedists, and were the first to formulate the 
maxim (which the Liberal economists afterwards adopted 
as a fundamental principle) of the non-intervention of the 
State in industrial and commercial life ( Laissez faire, Laissez 
passer). They also put forward the erroneous interpretation 
of the Natural Law which was afterwards adopted and 
developed by the Liberal economists. Of the Physiocrats 
the best known names are Quesnay (d. 1774), the founder 
of the school ; Turgot ( d . 1778), financial minister of Louis 
XVI ; de Gournay (d. 1759), and Dupont de Nemours 
(d. 1768). 2 

1 CI. Palgrave, op. cit. (" Mercantile System ”) ; Ingrain, op. cit., chap, iv ; 
Shields, op. cit., chap, i, pp. 8 ff. 

2 Cf. Gide., op. cit., pp. 1-5; Cath. Encyclop., arts. “Physiocrats,” 
“Turgot,” etc.; Palgrave, op. cit., arts. “Physiocrats,” “ Turgot,” etc.; 
Ingram, op. cit., pp. 57-70. 



Classical School of Economics. — It was in Britain, however, 
that Liberalism was first formulated into a complete 
economic system. This was done by the writers of the so- 
called Classical School of which the Scotchman, Adam 
Smith, was the founder. Adam Smith’s great work, 
Enquiry into the Nature and Cause of the Wealth of Nations, 
appeared in 1776. The other leading writers of the English 
Liberal school are Malthus, who published his famous 
Essay of the Principle of Population in 1789 ; David 
Ricardo, author of the Principles of Political Economy and 
Taxation (published 1817), and John Stuart Mill, whose 
Principles of Political Economy appeared in 1848. 1 

Materialism and utilitarianism are dominant character- 
istics in the works of these and the other English writers 
of the Liberal school. Most of them also show determined 
hostility to religion, and a profound opposition to the 
Christian principles of social and domestic life. 2 The prin- 
ciples of the classical school have dominated British 
economic policy and law down to our own time, although 
since about 1870 strong opposing currents have appeared 
both in doctrine and in legislative tendencies. 3 

Its Main Tenets. — We may summarise the principal tenets 
of the classical school as far as they concern us here in 
the three following propositions : 

I. Untrammelled liberty for the individual in economic 
action is the only sure foundation of economic progress and 
social harmony, just as liberty in religious belief is the only 
foundation of true religion ; and liberty and equality in 
political action are necessary for good government. 

II. The material self-interest of the individual, which is 
always his only motive of action, and which supplies an un- 
limited stimulus to human endeavour, works out infallibly 
for the greater good of the whole social body. 

1 Cf. Ingram, op. cit., pp. 55-196 ; Gide, op. cit., bk. i, chaps, ii and iii 
and bk. iii, chap, ii ; Palgrave, op. cit., arts. “ Classical Economists,” 
" Adam Smith,” “ Malthus,” etc. For a discussion of the dominating 
influence of Locke’s teaching on the rise and progress of individualism, 
cf. Larkin, op. cit., chaps, iii and iv. 

1 Cf. Devas, op. cit., pp. 652-654 ; Antoine, op. cit., chap, viii, art. 1. 

a These opposing currents come from the Historical School of Political 
Economy, from the Socialists and from a partial revival of Christian 
principles. Cf. Gide, op. cit., bk. iv, chaps. 1 and iv. 



III. Hence, free trade with foreign countries and, free com- 
petition between individuals or corporations, each working 
exclusively for his, or its own material interests, implying the 
non-interference of the Government in the operations of finance, 
in the relations between employers and employed, etc., must 
be regarded as a f undamental principle in the constitution of 
the State. 

These principles have been in large measure the intel- 
lectual groundwork upon which the modern capitalistic 
system has been built up, and are accountable for some of 
the worst evils of modem industrialism. It was under plea 
of these principles that the Customs duties between Ireland 
and England were practically abolished in 1800 with dis- 
astrous effects upon Irish manufacturing industry. It was 
these principles, too, that formed the nucleus of the group 
of ideas comprehended in the term “ Manchester School,” 
of which Sir Robert Peel, Cobden and Bright were the best 
known representatives. The teachings of the Manchester 
School were the driving force behind the Eree Trade move- 
ment in the 19th century. The Free Trade movement led 
to the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1848, a measure which 
was ruinous to Ireland and did much to destroy the agri- 
cultural life of Britain itself. 1 

Credit Reform Movement. — Partly as a reaction against 
some of the abuses to w'hich economic Liberalism has led — 
namely, the dominance of the financial magnates and the 
private monopoly of credit, there came into prominence 
after the European war what may be described as a kind 
of new economic school, giving rise to what is sometimes 
described as the “ Credit Reform Movement.” A group of 
English writers, including Major Douglas, Orage (editor for 
some time of the New Age), Professor T. Loddy, M. A. 
Kitson and others (while emphasising the abuses and in- 
justice associated with the present monetary system, which 
they say is even technically unsound, and leads necessarily 
to poverty, unemployment and war), 2 propose an alternative 
system in which gold would be definitely abandoned as a 

1 Cf. Palgrave, op. cit., arts. “ Manchester School ” and “ Free Trade." 

3 Cf. An article by Rev. Dr. Coffey (of Maynooth College), published 
in the Clergy Review, March, 1931, entitled “ Capital Ownership and Credit 



medium of exchange. In the proposed system the conduct 
of industry would be carried on under the control of pro- 
fessional or industrial syndicates or guilds enjoying a large 
measure of autonomy ; the currency (represented by coupons 
issued by State-controlled banks) would correspond to, and 
vary in symbolic value with the actual volume of production 
each year. 1 The scheme (the merits of which it is outside 
our scope to discuss) has not gained the approval, at least 
in its entirety, of any of the recognised economists, who 
condemn it as embodying or leading to State Socialism. 
On the other hand, some important elements in it, such as 
its rejection of the dominance of industry by the monied 
interest and the setting up of industrial corporations with 
an extensive measure of autonomy, seem to bear a certain 
resemblance to the orthodox Catholic ideal as outlined in 
the recent Encyclical of Pius XI. 2 

Art. 7 — Critique of Economic Liberalism 

Its Philosophic Ground- Work. — Without discussing in 
detail the purely economic tenets which distinguish the 
different schools of Liberal economic writers, we shall now 
indicate, in a general way, the main points in which economic 
Liberalism is at variance with Christian principles. In the 
philosophy of Liberalism, the science of Economics, no less 
than those of Politics and Jurisprudence, has been un- 
naturally divorced from the science of Ethics. Its whole 
scope is confined to the methods and means of producing 
and accumulating wealth. For in the doctrines of Liberalism 
wealth is regarded as an end in itself, instead of being a 
means to promote the temporal well-being of the people — 
as if the wealth or prosperity of a State could be justly 
estimated, apart from the prosperity and well-being of the 
individuals that compose it. 

Again, as a result of their ignoring Divine authority and 
man’s eternal destiny, the Liberals put forward an idea of 
the Natural Law which is radically false and misleading. 

1 Cf. Douglas and Orage — Credit Power and Democracy ; Douglas — 
Economic Democracy (Palmer, London, W.C. i, 1921) ; Marshall Hattersley 
This Age of Plenty (Pitman, London, W.C. 2, 1929) ; Adams — Real 
Wealth and Financial Poverty (Palmer, London, 1925). 

8 Quadragesimo Anno, pp. 36—44. 


] 30 


Ignoring or denying original sin, they identify the Natural 
Law with the lower tendencies of man, his innate selfishness 
and his natural craving for wealth, power and pleasure, 
leaving out of consideration the dictates of his higher nature 
which subordinate these tendencies to God’s law’, and man’s 
own eternal interests. Upon this false view of the Natural 
Law, coupled with the equally perverted concept of human 
liberty which we have already discussed , 1 the Liberals base 
their whole economic system. 

“ Nature,” they say, “ has provided for men’s happiness 
by implanting in the human heart certain instincts which, 
when allowed full scope, work inevitably for the general 
harmony and the good of all. Hence the path to prosperity 
and peace is found by allowing these tendencies free play.” 
Hence, too, the State has no duty to regulate the use of 
property, to control free competition, or to safeguard the 
interests of the poor and the weak against the wealthy 
and the strong . 2 As an inference from these principles, the 
so-called rights of ownership are regarded as independent 
of all limitations, even of such as may come from the funda- 
mental rights of others to a reasonable means of livelihood. 

Hence we may summarise the Catholic attitude towards 
Economic Liberalism in three sentences : Its main prin- 
ciples are false. Many of the inferences and assertions, 
which the system includes are contrary to experience. In 
its practical application it has proved disastrous to the 
temporal well-being of the people which it is the object of 
the State to promote. 

(a) Principles False . — The abstract principles upon which 
the Liberal economic system is based are contrary to Christian 
teaching and are ethically false. We have already pointed out 
the fallacy underlying the Liberal view of human liberty, 
which is one of the fundamental principles of the whole 
Liberal position. 

The Liberal concept of the Natural Law, in which man’s 
relations to God and to his own eternal destiny are ignored, 
and man is regarded as an isolated individualistic being, 
devoid of all natural social rights and duties, is equally mis- 

1 Cf. Supra, p. 106. 

2 Ci'. Antoine, loc. cit , ; Ingram, loc. cit. 



leading. Man’s relations to God and to his own eternal 
happiness and misery lie at the very root of his being and 
dominate every activity of his life, and so are essentially 
included in the Natural Law. 

Again, as man’s nature has been fashioned in such a way 
as to need and to be suited for civil association with his 
fellow-man, the Natural Law also includes the duties and 
rights of Legal and Distributive Justice, as well as those 
of Charity and Patriotism, which form the bonds of social 
and civil life. Hence the “ Economic Man ” of Adam Smith 
and the Classical School of economists (in which the human 
being is considered as detached from all social ties and 
actuated solely by a desire to acquire wealth, with no 
spiritual or moral impulse, no ideals of charity or patriotism, 
no obligation of social justice, etc.) is not the man that 
actually exists. The Economic Man is a pure figment of 
the mind, and has no relation to real life . 1 

Finally, since God created the goods of the earth for the 
use of all, human ownership or one’s right to one’s property 
is only a stewardship, and carries with it an obligation 
(which may be, and, where necessary, should be defined 
by the civil law) of exercising one’s ownership in accordance 
with right reason and the common good, and of taking 
account of the needs of others and their natural right to 
a fair opportunity of procuring a becoming livelihood. 

Hence, although it is true, as the Liberals assert, that 
“ Nature ” and the “ Laws of Nature ” have made due 
provision for man’s temporal happiness. Nature has to 
be understood in its true sense, as including man’s relations 
to God and to the society of which he forms a part, and not 
in the one-sided and purely materialistic sense in which 
Liberal philosophers use the term. 

( b ) Inferences and Assertions Contrary to Experience. — 

It is untrue and contrary to experience that material selfish- 
ness is the only motive of men’s energy, and that this motive 
supplies an nexhaustible incentive to human endeavour. Such 
an assertion is derogatory to human dignity, and a libel 
upon man’s nature. Besides his material needs and his 

1 Cf. Antoine, loc. cit., art. 2 ; Palgrave, op. cit., art. " Egoism,” etc. 
(Cf. index, Palgrave’s Diet, of Pol. Econ., ” Economic Man 



natural desire for material betterment, man has also in- 
tellectual, moral and religious needs and tendencies. 
Although the former do supply a powerful incentive to 
human endeavour, religion, patriotism, and philanthropy 
also exert immense influence on man’s activities. Besides, 
material wants and desires are not limitless ; whilst man’s 
desire and longing after moral and intellectual excellence 
increase in proportion to his successful efforts to attain it. 1 

(c) Injurious to the Well-being of the People. — The appli- 
cation to economic life of the Liberal principles of individualism 
and egoism cannot lead to social peace and prosperity ; and 
to expect it to do so is in contradiction to experience and 
history. The assertion that the untrammelled liberty of 
the individual in economic activities can supply a sure 
foundation of peace and harmony need not be seriously 
discussed. Human society is unthinkable apart from social 
rights and duties and a due regard for the common good, 
all of which must limit individual liberty. Besides the 
limitations set by the natural law it is a matter of common- 
sense and experience that public authority must in many 
ways interpose its sanctions to secure that social rights and 
duties be respected, and the common good adequately 

Hence, Pius XI, treating of economic Liberalism, writes : 

“ Free competition . . . though within certain limits just and 
productive of good results, cannot be the ruling principle of the 
economic world ; this has been abundantly proved by the con- 
sequences that have followed from the free rein given to these 
dangerous individualistic ideals.” 2 

The freedom accorded by English law to the Irish land- 
lords of the 18th and 19th centuries to rack-rent and arbi- 
trarily evict their tenants did not lead to harmony or 
justice between the two classes concerned ; and, far from 
promoting material welfare or economic progress, resulted 
in the pauperisation and partial extermination of the agri- 
cultural population. Neither did the liberty which the 
British manufacturing employers enjoyed during the same 

1 Antoine, loo. cit., art. 2. 

2 Quadragesimo Anno, 1931 (C. T. S. edition), pp. 40, 41 ; cf. also ib., 
pp. 60, 61. 



period to beat down the wages of their workers to a standard 
of bare subsistence and to subject them to inhuman con- 
ditions produce harmony between the classes or promote 
social progress so far as the overwhelming majority of the 
people were concerned. 

Indeed, the indictment of history against the principles 
of economic Liberalism is quite overwhelming. It is the 
practical application of these principles that has led to 
Irish and British pauperisation, which in extent and in- 
tensity is unparalleled in Europe. 1 The same principles are 
accountable for the unchristian character of the British 
Poor Law System of the 19th century, for the horrors of the 
English factory system of the first half of the same century, 2 
for such national crimes as the Irish famines of the 18th 
and 19th centuries, for the periodic famines in India, 3 for 
the evils connected with modem capitalism such as corner- 
ing, profiteering and gambling on the Stock Exchange, 
the consequent extremes of poverty and wealth, the class 
antagonism, the misery and moral degradation of the 
poorer classes. 

Unlimited freedom of competition in economic matters 
sets up in fact a species of anarchy as a result of which the 
weaker members of the social body inevitably fall under the 
domination of the stronger and more ruthless. At the 
present day this economic dominance is realised and exer- 
cised through money and the monopoly of credit con- 
centrated in the power of a few. 

1 Cf. Antoine, op. cit., chap. xx. 

3 Cf. Devas, op. cit., bk. iii, chap. viii. 

3 “ The characteristic doctrine of classical political economy has caused, 
during the 19th century, not less than ten millions to perish of starvation 
in India and Ireland.” Devas, op. cit., bk. i, chap, vii, p. 145. Cf. also 
Prosperous British India, by Sir William Digby (London, 1902), in which 
the author shows the disastrous results of the British Indian policy (shaped 
in accordance with the principles of Economic Liberalism) . Among these 
results have been the appalling increase of Indian famines. During the 
19th century no less than 19 famines have occurred in India, accounting 
for a death-roll of 33,000,000 of persons (the complete death list of all 
the wars of the 19th century reached about 5,000,000 ; that of the recent 
Great European War about 7,000,000) : and all this notwithstanding the 
well-known fact that India produces more food than her people can 
consume, and that she is much less densely populated than most European 
countries. But, as with Ireland, the well-being of the people has been 
disregarded under the plea that Government measures for such a purpose 
“ interfering with the course of trade ” " would be contrary to the prin- 
ciples of Political Economy" (Cf. Antoine, ioc. cit.). 



“ This accumulation of power,” writes Pius XI, “ the character- 
istic note of the modem economic order, is a natural result of 
the limitless free competition, which permits the survival of 
those only who are the strongest, which often means those who 
fight most relentlessly, and pay the least heed to the dictates 
of conscience.” 1 

Hence, too, the enforcing of the principle of unlimited 
freedom of competition has had the effect of destroying 
all competition and producing unjust monopolies. This 
result, which the present day has seen substantially realised, 
is also deplored by Pius XI : 

“ Free competition is dead : economic dictatorship has taken 
its place. Unbridled ambition for domination has succeeded 
the desire for gain : the whole economic life has become hard, 
cruel and relentless in a ghastly measure.” 2 

The logical development and practical tendency of 
economic Liberalism are towards a return to the economic 
system prevailing in Europe before the rise of Christianity, 
namely, the establishment of the Servile State. Where such 
development does not occur, the existence of Liberal capi- 
talism inevitably causes a reaction towards Socialism . 3 

1 Quadragesima Anno, 1931 (C. T. S. edition), p. 47. 

2 lb. 

3 Cf. Belloc — Servile State , loc. cit. 



Liberalism is justly regarded as the philosophic ground- 
work of modern Capitalism, of which we shall now treat. 
The term Capitalism is often used in a vague and undeter- 
mined sense. It is commonly understood to refer to an 
industrial system or regime in which the resources of the 
country are controlled by a comparatively small number 
of individuals, while the working population are property- 
less and more or less oppressed. How far these general 
ideas of Capitalism are accurate will appear from the 

Division of the Subject. — In the present sketch, after ex- 
plaining what the Capitalist Economic Regime is, and dis- 
cussing briefly its moral aspects and the attitude of the 
Church towards it, we shall outline the main features of the 
form which it has assumed in modem times, and wluch we 
have in the title of the present chapter termed Individualistic 
Capitalism. We shall then sketch briefly the genesis and 
growth of the Capitalist Economic Regime, and of the type 
of capitalism which has got engrafted on it. In the third 
place we shall analyse the false principles upon which 
Individualistic Capitalism rests ; and describe briefly the 
main evils to which it has given rise. 

1 Cf. Antoine, op. cit., chap, xiii ; Belliot, op. cit. i i<!re partie, chap, ii, 
see. ii ; and 2 ieme partie, chap, ii ; Costa- Rosetti, op. cit., pp. 512 and 

762-833. O’Brien — Economic Effects of the Reformation (London, 1923), 
chap, ii ; Tawney — Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (London, 1926), 
and The Acquisitive Society (Bell, London, 1927, 8th edit.) ; Werner 

Sombart — The Jews and Modern Capitalism (translated from the German 
by M. Epstein. Dutton & Co., New York, 1903. The French translation 
of the same book is entitled Les Juifs et la Vie Economique, Payot, Paris, 

1923), chaps, ii— xi ; Belloc — Servile State, secs, iv and v ; Devas — Political 
Economy, bk. ii, chaps, x and xi ; and bk. iii, chap, viii ; Cath. Encyclop. — 

art. “Monopoly”; Watt, S.J. — Capitalism and Morality (Cassel, London, 

1929) and The Future of Capitalism (C. S. G., Oxford, 1931) ; Adams — 
Real Wealth, Financial Poverty (London, 1925) ; Palgrave, op. cit., vol. ii, 
art. “ Industrial Evolution” ; Lingard and Belloc — The History of England, 
vol. xi (London, 1915). PP- Co, 6 5 . 113, 127-137, 174, 175, 242-244, 429-436, 
599 - 7 f >9 ; Diet. la Foi Cath. — art. " Socialisme,” cols. 1441-1446. 
Cahill, S.J. — Freemasonry and the Anti-Christian Movement (Dublin, 1030, 
2nd edit.), see index sub verbo “Capitalism.” 




Art. 1 — The Capitalist Regime and Individualistic Capitalism 

Capital and Capitalists. — In order to convey a correct idea 
of the meaning of the Capitalist Economic Regime and of 
the abuses which Individualistic Capitalism includes, we 
must first explain briefly the kindred term capital. Some 
authors define capital as wealth which yields a revenue ; 
others as that part of wealth which is set aside for future 
production. 1 Each of these definitions serves to emphasise 
a special aspect of capital. Economists draw a distinction 
between goods of consumption such as food and clothing, 
which serve for the purpose of directly satisfying one’s 
immediate needs and are consumed by being used, and 
productive goods, such as land, machinery, railways, farm 
stock, which, although meant ultimately to satisfy human 
needs, are directly utilised rather for the production of 
other goods. We may for our present purpose understand 
Capital in the general sense of productive goods, to which 
each of the given definitions substantially applies. 

Capital therefore is an essential element in the conduct 
of industry of whatever kind ; for “ Capital cannot do 
without Labour, nor Labour without Capital,” 2 and as long 
as the social organisation is based mainly upon private 
property (which is the only system compatible with human 
well-being and peace), individual proprietors will always 
own the capital of a country, at least to a considerable 
extent. In other words there always have been, and always 
will be capital and capitalists. 

The Capitalist Economic R6gime. — The Capitalist Eco- 
nomic Regime is aptly described by Pope Pius XI as the 
economic system “ in which the capital and labour jointly 
needed for production are provided by different people.” 3 
It is contradistinguished from the economic system in 
which the workers are also the owners of the capital. This 
latter system prevailed largely in mediaeval times even 
among the industrial population ; and it still exists among 
the major portion of the agricultural classes. In industrial 
work, however, as distinct from that of agriculture, the 

1 Cf. Palgrave, op. tit., vol. i, p. 217. 

2 Leo XIII — Rerum Novarum, p. 142. 

3 Quadragesimo Anno, C. T. S. edit., p. 45. 



capitalist regime has now become almost universal, with 
the result that in some countries the ownership or control 
of most of the productive property is exercised by a relatively 
small section of the community, while the majority of the 
population possess no productive property of any kind, and 
are employed by the others as wage-earners. The former 
class are styled the Capitalists and the others the Proletariat 
— a term borrowed from the writers of pagan Rome, where 
the propertyless but free population was referred to as the 

Moral Aspects of the Capitalist Regime. — We shall show 
in a later chapter , 1 when dealing with Employer and 
Employed, that the wage contract is not in itself essentially 
unjust. Neither would a regime be in which even the domi- 
nating portion of the labouring population earn their bread 
by working under equitable conditions, for capitalist owners 
or employers. Eor in such a system each party, employer 
and employee, receives a fair portion of the fruits of pro- 
duction to which both parties have contributed, the one 
by giving his labour and the other by supplying the capital, 
without which the labour would be impossible. Hence the 
Church does not condemn the capitalist economic regime 
as in itself unjust, nor does she find fault with the owner 
of capital who, while granting a just wage and due con- 
ditions of employment to his labourers, reserves a reasonable 
profit for himself as the just equivalent of the part played 
in the production by the capital which he owns. 

“ Surely,” writes Pius XI, “ it [viz., the Capitalist Economic 
Regime] is not vicious of its very nature ; but it violates right 
order whenever capital so employs the working or wage-earning 
classes, as to divert business and economic activities entirely to 
its own arbitrary will and advantage . . ,” 2 

Church’s Attitude towards it. — But although the capitalist 
regimo is not essentially vicious, the Church’s tendency 
has always been more in favour of a system in which the 
dominating portion of the workers are owners or part owners 
of the capital with which they labour. The Christian social 

1 Infra, chap, xxi, art. I 

2 Quadragesimo Anno, p. 48. 



ideal, which emphasises so strongly the dignity and privileges 
of human personality, is more easily realised in a social 
system which includes the widest extension of ownership. 
Hence Leo XIII writes : 

“ The law should favour ownership, and its policy should be 
to induce as many as possible of the humbler class to become 
owners .” 1 

The reason of the Church’s policy in this regard is obvious. 
Labour has been constituted by Providence as the normal 
means of supporting life. Now, one cannot labour without 
something to exercise one’s energies upon. Hence the man 
who lacks productive property is at the mercy of others 
in a matter which lies at the root of his temporal well-being. 
This is out of harmony with Christian ideals of reasonable 
liberty as a natural right of the human person. 

Besides, it is a well-known fact that the posse sion of at 
least a reasonable amount of productive property tends to 
develop in the individual a praiseworthy spirit of self- 
respect and self-reliance, as well as a sense of responsibility. 
Thus the wide diffusion of ownership improves the general 
character of the people and communicates an element of 
stability to the whole social system. 

“ Every effort, therefore, must be made,” writes Pius XI . . . 
“ that ... an ample sufficiency be supplied to the working- 
man. The purpose is . . . that wage-eanicrs of all kinds be 
enabled by economizing that portion of their wage which remains 
after necessary expenses have been met to attain to the pos- 
sessions of a certain modest fortune .” 2 

A further reason why the Church favours the wide ex- 
tension of ownership rather than the prevalence of the 
capitalist regime, is the fact that the latter is specially 
liable to grave abuse and tends to develop into the In- 
dividualistic Capitalism which is so prevalent at the present 

Individualistic Capitalism. — Individualistic Capitalism is 
nothing else than the unjust and perverted form which the 
capitalist regime has assumed in modern times. It is to 
this form of capitalism Pius XI refers when he says that 

1 Rerum Nov arum t p- 158. 

2 Quadragesimo Anno, pp. 30 and 34. 



the capitalist regime though not vicious of its very nature 

“ violates right order, whenever capital so employs the working 
or wage-earning classes, as to divert business and economic 
activity entirely to its own arbitrary will and advantage, without 
any regard to the human dignity of the workers, the social 
character of economic life, social justice and the common good .” 1 

According to Christian teaching and the natural law, all 
men’s activities must be exercised in harmony with proper 
order and the divine plan ; and they are faulty in so far as 
they recede from it. Now since God created material goods 
to supply men’s temporal needs, the process of manufacture 
and exchange by which these goods are made available for 
human use must be subordinated to these needs. Hence it 
is a perversion of right order to make the productive and 
trading activities of the community completely subservient 
to the personal gain or ambition of a few capitalists even 
to the detriment of the people’s well-being. This is what 
has actually occurred in modern times. Practically the 
whole economic system is being shaped and worked with 
a view to gratifying the avarice and ambition of the 
capitalist owners, or still worse of those who, though not 
the real owners of the capital, are enabled by means of the 
financial lever to control and mould to their own arbitrary 
will the economic life of the nation. Hence have followed 
the oppression and exploitation of the working population, 
whose right to a fair opportunity of utilising the earth’s 
resources for their human needs is not sufficiently upheld 
either by the law of the land, or in the public conscience. 

Owing to the dominating role played by the financial 
magnates in this perversion and abuse, and the extent to 
which the modern economic system, founded as it is upon 
the Capitalist Economic Regime, has become subservient 
to the monied interests, modern or Individualistic Capitalism 
is sometimes defined as a social system in which the bankers 
and masters of finance have unjustly seized the supreme 
control of production, consumption and exchange and prac- 
tically dominate the whole social life of the nation. 

“ On the one side,” writes Leo XIII, “ there is the party 
which holds power because it holds wealth, which has in its 
grasp the whole of labour and trade, which manipulates for its 

1 It)., p. 45. 



benefit and its own purposes all the resources of supply, and 
which is even represented in the councils of the State itself. . . . 
On the other side there is the needy and powerless multitude, 
broken down and suffering and ever ready for disturbance.” 1 

Art. 2 — Rise and Growth of the Capitalist Economic Regime 

Summary of the Subject. — The causes which have led to 
the rise and spread of the Capitalist Economic Regime are 
numerous and complex, and it is outside our scope to 
attempt an adequate analysis of them. Among these causes 
may he enumerated the rise into importance of liquid or 
fluid funds and the lowering of the prestige of immovable 
property, which began in the 16th century as a result of 
the expansion of commerce ; the Protestant revolt of the 
same century; the “Industrial Revolution” of the 18th 
century ; the Liberalistic Philosophy which began to prevail 
about the same time ; and finally the purely selfish and 
materialistic outlook derived especially from Calvinism and 
Judaism which is the very essence of the capitalistic spirit. 
The two last causes, namely. Liberalism, and the selfish and 
materialistic mentality of Judaism and Calvinism are the 
main sources of the anti social abuses which we have 
designated by the term Individualistic Capitalism. 

Growth of Liquid Wealth. — In mediaeval times immovable 
property and its accessories, such as land and farm 
stock, mines, fisheries, factories and workshops, were 
practically the only type of wealth, and were mostly owned 
by individual proprietors, who depended on them for their 
support. Before the 16th century the volume of European 
trade, and consequently the amount of money in circulation, 
were comparatively small. As a result, however, of the 
discovery of America, South Africa and the sea route to 
the East Indies, new fields were opened up for enterprise 
and commerce, while at the same time immense supplies 
of the precious metals flowed into Europe. This greatly 
increased the desire and the need of money, and from this 
also arose a new form of wealth founded upon oversea trade 
and the different organisms of exchange. About the same 

Rerum Novarum, pp. 158, 159. 



time the removal, under the Protestant regime, of the pro- 
hibition of usury gave; money a new and additional value. 
As a result of these causes, the ancient prestige of productive 
property, as the one type of wealth, declined. Lands and 
other forms of immovable property were mortgaged for 
money, and large portions of the real property of Europe 
passed under the control of money-owners and money- 
lenders. 1 Later on, when, as a result of the industrial 
revolution in the 18th century, the custom of mass pro- 
duction began to prevail, great sums were needed to equip 
factories and organise the yearly-increasing volume of trade. 
This led to the foundation of the great joint stock companies 
in which shares were often held by persons who had no 
other connection with the activities of the trading or manu- 
facturing companies of whibh they were the part-owners. 

Again, increasing trade supplied the occasion for specu- 
lation, thus opening a new field for easy profits without 
labour. These tendencies continued to assume ever greater 
proportions during the 16th and following centuries, 
especially in Great Britain, till in our day speculation and 
finance dominate the whole economic and social life of 
many nations. 

Formation of the British Capitalist Class. — An important 
and indeed almost decisive element in the rise and extension 
of the Capitalist Economic Regime was the course of events 
in Great Britain and Ireland during the 16th and 17th 
centuries. By the plunder of the Church in these countries 
in the 16th century a very large proportion of the total 
wealth (hitherto controlled by the guilds and the ecclesias- 
tical corporations for the service of the people) passed into 
the hands of a small clique of greedy adventurers, who thus 
formed the nucleus of a capitalist class. Later on, in the 
17th century, this class, now reinforced by the PuritaD 
and allied Jewish elements, made the Crown subservient to 
them, and succeeded in establishing a political oligarchy 
founded on the control of wealth. 2 

The two great movements, one agricultural and the other 

1 Cf. Belliot, loc. cit. 

2 Belloc — Servile Slate, loc. cit., and History of England (Lingard and 
Belloc), loc. cit. ; cf. also Pius XI, ib., pp. 45-48. 



industrial, which mark the social and economic history of 
Britain in the 18th century, enabled this dominant class to 
extend their power still further. They assumed almost com- 
plete control of the whole economic and political life of the 
nation, while the mass of the people, although nominally 
enjoying political freedom, were practically reduced to the 
condition of a helpless proletariat. 

The improved methods of agriculture which were intro- 
duced into Britain during the first half of the 18th century 
were accompanied by the unjust seizure of the common 
lands by the landlord class, and the wholesale absorption 
of the small peasant holdings into the demesnes of the great 
proprietors. 1 Thus the possession of the land, which in 
every country is the foundation of political and economic 
freedom, passed from the people to the dominant class. 

In the latter half of the same century, the invention of 
the steam-engine, the power-loom, etc., and the intro- 
duction of the smelting of iron by coal, brought about what 
is called the “ Industrial Revolution.” 2 The main char- 
acteristic of this new economic phase is mass production 
by means of machinery and steam or motor power. As it 
requires very considerable means to equip a factory, the 
wealthy class, already referred to, were enabled to anticipate 
and prevent any attempt at a co-operative development of 
the new industrial methods. They quickly gained control 
of the large factories, in which the mass of the propertyless 
workers were employed for wages ; destroyed the trade of 
the small independent artificers and thus dominated the 
whole industrial machine. 3 

The laws enacted in England and other countries for the 
formation of impersonal manufacturing and trading com- 
panies facilitated the growth of the power of the capitalist 
class, and the increasing exploitation of the workers. 

“ The regulations legally enacted,” again writes Pius XI, 

1 Cf. Palgrave, op. cit., vol. i, p. 29 ; Seebohm — English Village Com- 
munity , pp. 13—15. It is said that between 1710 and 1867, over seven 
and a half millions of statute acres in England and Wales (nearly a third 
of the whole cultivable area) passed from small holders into the hands of 
the large proprietors, thus displacing or drawing into the wage-earning 
and propertyless class hundreds of thousands of peasants. 

2 Cf. Palgrave, op. cit., vol. ii, p. 400, art. “ Industrial Revolution." 

3 Cf. ib . ; also Belloc — Servile State, pp. 57-77, and History of England 

(Belloc and I.ingard), vol. xi, loc. cit. 



“for corporations with their divided responsibility and limited 
liability have given occasion to abominable abuses. The greatly 
weakened accountability makes little impression, as is evident, 
upon the conscience. The worst injustices and frauds take 
place beneath the obscurity of the common name of a cor- 
porative firm.’’ 1 

Art. 3 — Rise of Individualistic Capitalism 

Individualistic Capitalism has developed from the 
Capitalist Economic Regime. It is not a necessary result of 
that regime which, as already stated, is not essentially vicious. 
The capitalist regime is, however, specially liable to abuse 
owing to the abnormal power it places in the hands of the 
capitalist section of the community and the weak position 
of the propertyless workers. Still, had the influence of the 
Church been as great in the 18th century when the capitalist 
economic regime began in Great Britain, as it was in the 
1 1th century when feudalism w r as Christianised, it is certain 
that the development of industrial life would have followed 
a very different course. The influences which led to the 
rise of Individualistic Capitalism came from three main 
sources, namely, Protestantism, Judaism, and unchristian 
Liberalism. We touch briefly on each in turn. 

Protestant and Calvinistic Mentality. — A very important 
element in the evolution of Individualistic Capitalism is the 
purely selfish and materialistic outlook on life which was 
inherited from the Protestant Revolt. This attitude of 
mind, which is fundamentally opposed to the spirit of 
Catholicism, appears in its worst form in the spirit of 
Calvinism and Puritanism. Calvinism is the type of Pro- 
testantism that prevailed in Holland, Switzerland and 
Scotland, and later on in the north-Eastern counties of 
Ireland. Puritanism, which exerted the greatest influence 
in England, is only an adaptation of Calvinism. The growth 
and triumph of Puritanism in England in the 17th century 
was the most fundamental factor in the formation and 
development of modern England, as we know it. 2 Now 
England and Holland were, so to speak, the homeland of 

1 lb., p. 6o. 

z Cf. Tawney, op. cit., pp. 198, 199; O’Brien, op. cit., chap. ii. 



the Capitalistic Economic Regime and the breeding ground 
from which the individualistic spirit of modem capitalism 
has spread over a large part of the modern world. 

Jewish Influence.— As in the case of Liberalism, Free- 
masonry, Bolshevism, and almost every modern movement 
that is essentially unchristian and anti-Catholic, the for- 
mation and development of Individualistic Capitalism un- 
questionably owes much to the Jews. The whole modern 
system of finance, upon which modem capitalism pivots, 
is practically a Jewish creation, and the world of finance is 
to-day almost completely dominated by the Jews. 1 Again, 
English Puritanism, which is so closely associated with the 
rise of Individualistic Capitalism, seems to exhibit a certain 
affinity with modern Judaism. The Jews were always 
specially favoured by the Puritan leaders, and attained 
much influence in England under Cromwell, the greatest 
and most typical of the English Puritans. Again, the selfish 
concentration upon material gain and the worship of worldly 
success, which are characteristic of the modern individualistic 
spirit, take the place of real religion with Jew and Puritan 
alike. 2 

The Liberalist Philosophy. — We have already treated of 
the rise of Liberalism in the 18th century, and especially 
of the British school of Liberalist Economics. The pre- 
valence of this philosophy with all it implies was to a large 
extent the result of the causes already mentioned, and has 
been a main factor in the evolution of Individualistic 
Capitalism. It is to this element Pius XI alludes in the 
following passage : 

“A stem insistence on the moral law enforced with vigour 
by the civil authority could have dispelled, or perhaps averted 
these enormous evils [viz., the abuses and frauds connected with 
speculation, finance and the constitution of the impersonal 
Limited Liability Companies]. This, however, was too often 
lamentably wanting. For at the time when the new social 
order was beginning [viz., that of the industrial Revolution of 
the 18th century] the doctrines of rationalism had already taken 

1 Cf. W. Sombart, op. cit . 

2 Cf, O'Brien, Tawney, Sombart, loc. cit . ; also Belloc — The Jews. 



hold of large numbers and an economic science [viz., Economic 
Liberalism] alien to the true moral law had arisen, whence it 
followed that free rein was given to human avarice .” 1 

The oppression and abuses proceeding from the principles 
of Economic Liberalism seem to have reached a climax in 
our own days when almost the whole economic and social 
life of many nations is dominated by the activities of the 
great financiers and the giant trusts. These now control in 
large measure even the production and distribution of the 
very necessaries of life. They too often divert the energies 
of the nation to the promotion of activities which are useless 
or harmful while the masses of the people are in want. 
Hence arise unnatural monopolies, cornering, dumping, 
industrial crises, caused by useless overproduction, enforced 
idleness, euphemistically termed unemployment ; the utilisa- 
tion of the public credit to promote gambling, degrading 
cinema shows and sensational newspapers. 

Art. 4 — Principles Underlying Individualistic Capitalism 

The principles which form the essence of the modern 
capitalistic spirit may be described as follows : a false 
concept of human ownership or control of property ; a 
perverted idea of the true aim of industrial activity ; an 
unqualified acceptance of usury ; and a false idea of the 
legitimate functions of government. We treat each in turn. 

(a) False Concept of Ownership or Control. — According 
to Christian teaching, human ownership or control of pro- 
perty is only a stewardship, which the person is bound to 
exercise in accordance with God’s laws, and with due regard 
to the needs and rights of others. Hence ownership or 
control of property, as we shall see later, 2 includes — according 
to Christian teaching — a social as well as an individual 
aspect : for its object according to the natural and divine 
law is not only to enable individuals to provide for their 
own needs and the needs of their families, but also to secure 
that the goods which the Creator meant for the human 
race may truly serve that purpose and serve it too in an 
orderly and stable manner. It follows from this twofold 
character of ownership, the individual and social character, 

1 76., pp. 6o, 6i. 


Cf. Infra, chap, xvii, art. 3. 


the framework of a Christian state 

that the owner in utilising his rights and the State in exer- 
cising its functions of safeguarding the rights of all and 
promoting public prosperity, must take into account not 
only the individual owner’s advantage but also the public 
good . 1 In this particular, above all, the individualistic 
outlook of modem Capitalism, in which the rights of owner- 
ship and control are regarded as independent of all social 
obligations and are in practice used for the sole object of 
increasing the power and wealth of a small class without 
due regard to the claims of social justice and charity, is in 
direct opposition to the Christian law. It is to this tyran- 
nical abuse of wealth and power that Leo XIII refers when 
he speaks of a 

“ small number of very rich men who have been able to lay 
upon the teeming masses of the labouring poor a yoke little 
better than that of slavery itself .” 2 

In another passage of the Encyclical quoted the Pope 
stigmatises the same abuse when he refers to 

“ the party which has in its grasp the whole of labour and trade, 
which manipulates for its own benefit and its own purposes all 
the sources of supply, and which is even represented in the 
councils of the State itself .” 3 

( b ) Perversion of the True Aim of Industry. — We have 
already shown that the natural law ordains that industry 
be conducted in the interests of the community, that is of 
the actual producers and consumers of the goods, which 
form the object of the industry. Christian ideals require 
besides, that in the management and control of industrial 
operations, the well-being and security of the workers 
should be a primary consideration. In the actual form, 
however, which modern capitalism has assumed, the owner- 
ship of the capital and supreme control of the industrial 
organisations are very frequently divorced almost entirely 
from the life of the workers, and from the interests of both 
producer and consumer. Thus the Rio Tinto Mines of 
Spain may be controlled by a British syndicate. The 
Irish, Roumanian, or Greek railway system or mercantile 

1 Pius XI — Quadragesima Anno, pp. 20-22. 

3 Rerum Novarum, p. 131. 3 lb., p. 159. 



marine ; the diamond mines of Kimberley ; the tobacco 
factories of Ireland, etc., may be controlled by groups of 
London or American or Jewish financiers, whose policy is 
shaped only with a view to power or gain, and who have 
no personal connection with, and no interest in, the actual 
producers or in those whose needs these industries are meant 
to supply, except in so far as they may be utilised as a means 
to profit. This is the root cause of the chaos which reigns 
to-day in the industrial organisation of the civilised 
countries of the world, where the anomalous position exists 
that immense multitudes are unemployed and in want while 
natural resources from which all their needs could be supplied 
are left undeveloped . 1 

(c) Modern Capitalism Essentially Connected with Usury. — 

The Christian teaching on usury is practically disregarded 
in the working of modem Capitalism. The system in its 
actual working includes, according to Leo XIII, the practice 
of “ rapacious usury ” which, though appearing “ under a 
different guise,” is included in the Church’s age-long con- 
demnations . 2 

(d) False Principles regarding the Functions of Govern- 
ment. — Leo XIII, in a passage already quoted, writes, that 
as a result of the revolt against the Church and the dissolution 
of the industrial guilds, the workers were “ surrendered all 
isolated and helpless to the hardheartedness of employers 
and the greed of unchecked competition.” This was done in 
accordance with the false principles of economic Liberalism, 
which we have already described . 3 According to Liberalist 
principles the State has no duty and no right to interfere 
in economic activities even for the purpose of defending 
the rights of the poor and the weak. Consequently, the 
interests of these were left to the working of what the 
defenders of this theory call “ Economic Laws.” The 
inevitable result of such a policy was the oppression of the 
workers, the gradual increase of the wealth and power of 
the capitalistic class and the growing concentration of 

1 Cf. Adams and Devas, loc. cit. 

3 Rerum Novarum, loc. cit. 

3 Cf. Supra, chap, ix, arts. 6 and 7. 



power and control in the hands of the few who were able 
to drive all other competitors from the field. 

“ This accumulation of power,” writes Pius XI, “ the char- 
acteristic note of the modern economic order is a natural result 
of the limitless free competition, which permits the survival of 
those only who are the strongest, which often means those who 
fight most relentlessly, who pay least heed to the dictates of 
conscience. ... As the ultimate consequence of this individual- 
istic spirit in economic affairs . . . free Competition is dead ; 
economic dictatorship has taken its place, unbridled ambition 
for domination has succeeded the desire for gain ; the whole 
economic life has become hard, cruel and relentless in a ghastly 
measure .” 1 

Art. 5 — Evil Results of Individualistic Capitalism 

Widespread Insecurity and Pauperism. — Leo XIII, writing 
in 1891 on the Condition of the Working Classes, speaks of 
the “ misery and wretchedness pressing so unjustly on the 
majority of the working classes.” 2 Pius XI in his recent 
Encyclical on the social Order refers to the 

” immense numbers of propertyless wage-earners on the one 
hand and the superabundant riches of the fortunate few on the 
other .” 3 He speaks too of “ the frightful perils to which the 
morals of the workers . . . and the virtue of girls and women are 
exposed in modern factories ... of the disgraceful housing 
conditions . . . and the insuperable difficulties placed in the 
way of a proper observance of the holydays.” “ Bodily labour,” 
he adds, “ which was decreed by God’s Providence for the good 
of man’s body and soul . . . has everywhere been changed into 
an instrument of strange perversion ; for dead matter leaves the 
factory ennobled and transformed where men are corrupted and 
degraded .” 4 

The wealth and power of modern Europe, the great 
colonial expansion opening up new and almost inexhaustible 
fields of enterprise for the energies of the European people, 
the scientific discoveries and mechanical inventions of the 
past two centuries by which the productive capacity of the 
nations of the world has been multiplied many times over, 
have not brought proportionate relief or improvement of 
conditions to the masses of the people. In many ways the 

1 lb., p. 47. 2 Rerum Novarum, p. 134. 

3 Quadragesimo Anno, p. 29. 4 /&., pp. 61, 62. 



condition of these is much worse than it was four centuries 
ago. Pauperism, insecurity, unrest, and material degrada- 
tion are much more intense and widespread to-day than 
they were before the productive power of human labour 
had been reinforced by modern scientific and mechanical 
discoveries ; and the prevalence of these conditions in any 
given country corresponds broadly to the extent to which 
the modern individualistic capitalism has taken hold there. 
Thus at present in three of the most capitalistic and highly 
industrialised countries of the world (viz., the United States 
of America, Great Britain and Germany) there are more than 
twelve millions of workers unemployed, who with their 
families must needs be suffering dire need even as regards 
the prime necessaries of life ! That this unprecedented 
phenomenon is mainly a result of the modem capitalist 
system is generally admitted. Again, Pius XI, making 
special reference to the workings of the same system in the 
native and colonial States of Asia and Africa, in which 
European capitalistic methods have been introduced and 
the native social organisation supplanted, writes : 

“ After modern machinery and modern industry had pro- 
gressed with astonishing speed and taken possession of many 
newly colonized countries no less than of the ancient civilisations 
of the far East, the numbers of the dispossessed labouring 
masses, whose groans mount to heaven from these lands 
increased beyond all measure .” 1 

In the same passage the Pope speaks of the condition of the 
landless rural labourers of European countries. He recalls 
the words of Leo XIII, who refers to the same class as 
“ the needy and powerless multitude sick and sore in spirit 
and ever ready for disturbance ! ” and adds : 

“ There is the immense army of hired rural labourers, whose 
condition is depressed in the extreme, and who have no hope 
of ever obtaining a share in the land. These, too, unless 
efficacious remedies be applied, will remain perpetually sunk in 
their proletarian condition . 2 

Contrast with Mediaeval Social Conditions. — The unsocial 
and unnatural character of the modem Capitalistic system 

Quadragesima Anno, p. 29. 

2 76 . 



is still further illustrated, when present conditions are 
contrasted with the social conditions of mediaeval times 
under a predominantly Christian regime. Although the 
average productive capacity of each man was then immensely 
less than it now is, owing to mechanical contrivances and 
scientific knowledge, the people as a whole had a greater 
abundance of the necessaries of life, greater contentment 
and security, than they now enjoy . 1 Nay, notwithstanding 
the primitive methods of agriculture and manufacturing 
which then prevailed, the workers had much more rest 
and leisure than at present. Thus, besides the Sunday rest, 
there was in most countries of Europe an average of one 
holyday of obligation every week, and in some localities 
nearly double that number. On these days all abstained 
from servile work. At present there are scarcely half a 
dozen days in the whole year besides Sundays in which 
the labourers are exempted from work ; and in many 
countries not even is the Sunday rest observed . 2 

Forcing of Women into Industrial Work. — A still further 
illustration of the chaos which now reigns in the economic 
world is the increasing participation of women (and some- 
times even of children) in industrial and other work outside 
the home to the neglect of home duties, and other work 
which women alone can do and which is of greater import- 

1 Cf. Supra, chaps, v and vii. 

2 It is true that pestilence and local famines (resulting mostly from 
unscientific methods of agriculture and consequent failure of crops) were 
of frequent occurrence in mediaeval times ; and that there was little 
organisation to cope with them. This state of affairs gave rise to petty 
wars, raids for food into neighbouring territories and consequent feuds. 
Much of all this has been eliminated owing to the progress of science, 
increased facilities of transit and intercommunication, and the higher 
development of governmental organisation. Again, modem society has 
made great progress in the wider diffusion of literary knowledge (as distinct 
from education) ; in the organisation of public utilities, such as roads, 
bridges, etc., and in hygiene with a consequent decrease of infant mortality 
(at least among the well-to-do classes) and the lengthening of the average 
duration of human life. It is true, too, that a certain, though altogether 
inadequate, participation in the advantages of modern material progress 
has flowed out to the poorer classes ; and that their condition is not as 
bad now as it was, for instance, in the first quarter of the 19th century 
(See infra, chap, xi, art, 4, p. 176; also Pius XI — Quadragesima Anno, 
p. 29) ; but none of all this affects the general truth of the statements in 
the text. 



ance for the public good. Pius XI refers frequently in 
his recent Encyclicals to this abuse. 

“ Intolerable, and to be opposed with all our strength, is the 
abuse whereby mothers of families . . . are forced to engage 
in gainful occupations outside the domestic walls to the neglect 
of their own proper cares and duties, particularly the education 
of their children.” 1 Again, he writes : “ The mind shudders if 
we consider the frightful perils to which the morals of workers 
. . . and the virtue of girls and women are exposed in modern 
factories.” 2 

According to the manifest intention of the Author of 
nature the man is in normal circumstances the breadwinner 
of the family, while the primary function of the woman is 
to take charge of the home and of the children’s upbringing. 
The root cause of the perverted custom which the Pope 
stigmatises is the chaos which has been permitted to reign 
in industrial life in pursuance of the Liberal principles of 
free competition and the non-interference of public authority 
in industrial organisation. Employers were allowed to 
reduce men’s wages below the true standard of a living 
wage, thus making necessary the supplementary earnings 
of the wife and mother. Again, employers seeking their 
own personal gains often prefer women’s labour, as it is 
usually cheaper. In default of any regulating authority, 
or the moderating influence of a Christian and well-informed 
public opinion, the abuse has been allowed to grow till the 
stability of the family and of home life is now seriously 

Dictatorship of the Financial Lords. — Forty-one years ago 
(1891) Leo XIII referred in memorable words to “ a small 
number of very rich men who have been able to lay upon 
the teeming masses of the labouring poor a yoke little better 
than slavery itself.” 3 The dominance of the monied classes 
is much more absolute now than it was then. Now, not only 
the workers and the poor but also manufacturers, merchants, 
and even farmers are made to feel in a very effective manner 

1 Quadragesima Anno, p. 33. 

2 /£>., p. 61 ; also Casti Connubii (C. T. S. edit.), p. 62 ; and Leo XIII — - 
Rerum Novarum, p. 156. 

3 Rerum Novarum, p. 134 



the despotic control of the great bankers and controllers of 

“It is patent that in our days,” writes Pius XI, “ not only 
is wealth accumulated, but immense power and despotic economic 
domination is concentrated in the hands of a few : and that 
those few are frequently not the owners, but only the trustees 
and directors of invested funds, who administer them at their 
own good pleasure .” 1 

The control exercised by the banking syndicates over the 
people’s money deposited with them has undergone a new 
development especially in our own times. Industry of all 
kinds is now largely financed by what is called credit or 
bank loans : and the bankers who control the allotment of 
the credit and can stipulate its conditions can thus prac- 
tically control industry and trade. It is to this special 
characteristic of modern Capitalism that Pius XI refers in 
the following striking passage. 

“ This power,” he writes, alluding to the control exercised by 
the Bankers and the Directors of companies over the people’s 
deposits and the invested funds, “ becomes particularly irresist- 
ible, when exercised by those, who because they hold and control 
money, are able also to govern credit and determine its allot- 
ment, for that reason supplying so to speak the life-blood to the 
entire economic body, and grasping, as it were, in their hands 
the very soul of production, so that no one dare breathe against 
their will .” 2 

The dictatorship of finance is at present probably the 
most comprehensive and far-reaching evil of the capitalist 
system. It puts the financial magnates, who are mostly 
Masonic Jews and the inveterate enemies of Christianity , 3 
in a position to exercise an immense measure of control over 
the public and private life of the whole people. These 
financial magnates — irresponsible, anonymous, almost im- 
personal — now largely control every department of industry 
and commerce, including even agriculture and fisheries as 
well as the agencies of distribution. The result is that they 
form a kind of irresponsible super-government. They can 
so manipulate the industrial machine that by their arbitrary 

1 Quadragesimo Anno, p. 46. 2 lb. 

3 Cf. Cahill, op. cit. (See Index under " Jews and F.” and “ Finance 

and I'."). 



decree, issued at New York, or London or Hamburg, 
millions of workers all over Europe and America can be 
deprived of all means of livelihood. They can increase or 
reduce the purchasing power of a given sum of money by 
freely issuing or withdrawing currency and financial credit. 
By this means productive industry may be held up, the 
current of trade may be stopped or reversed. The smiling 
countryside, with its waving crops and happy homesteads 
may be gradually converted into a tenantless expanse and 
the helpless people driven into exile or sent to swell the 
degraded slum population of the crowded cities. 

The same half-hidden, anonymous influence controls the 
Press, the international newsagencies, the theatre, the 
cinema, the book market . 1 It practically arranges what 
the public shall eat and wear and read. Although injustice 
and tyranny have been all too common in every age of the 
world’s history it is questionable if any tyranny ever before 
existed so widespread, so irresponsible and so callous as the 
tyranny over men’s activities which is at present exercised 
by the masters of high finance. 

Usurpation of Functions of Government. — Another phase 
of this abuse still more injurious to the public welfare is the 
unscrupulous manner in which the great capitalists and 
financiers have in modern times practically usurped the 
functions of the legitimate government in most countries 
of Europe and America. According to Catholic teaching, 
the State is a Perfect Society, the purpose of which is to 
promote the temporal well-being of its members. Hence 
it has within itself the duty, as well as the right, to take 
all the necessary measures for that end, which are con- 
sistent with the divine and natural law. The ruling power 
in the State cannot lawfully hand over its responsibilities 
to any outside power. Much less can it allow the economic 
life of the nation upon which the temporal well-being of the 
people so largely depends, to pass under the control of 
irresponsible individuals or foreign syndicates. This is 
what has actually occurred in very many modern states of 
Europe and America. In these the real power, controlling 
not only the economic life of the nation, but even its 

1 lb., pp. 165-167. 



domestic and foreign policy is exercised by the banking 
syndicates and the great finanical magnates. On this aspect 
of modern capitalism, Pius XI writes : 

" The intermingling, and scandalous confusion of the duties 
and offices of civil authority and of economics have produced 
crying evils, and have gone far to degrade the majesty of the 
State. The State, which should be the supreme arbiter, ruling 
in kingly fashion far above all party contention, intent only 
upon justice and the common good, has become instead a slave, 
bound over to the service of human passion and greed .” 1 

It is the financiers and big capitalists who nowadays 
effectively control the domestic and foreign policies of 
states, make and unmake governments, set up and pull 
down dynasties, order wars and dictate the terms of peace. 
These matters are arranged not for the purpose of promoting 
the temporal or spiritual good of the nations, but solely 
with a view to safeguarding or increasing the power of 
certain individuals or groups, who have no legitimate right 
or claim to such control or to any special voice in these 
affairs . 2 

Modern Trade Wars. — It is now commonly admitted that 
most modern wars are at root trade wars, the issues at 
stake being principally the financial interests of certain 
groups rather than any real political or national question. 

" This concentration of power,” again writes Pius XI, re- 
ferring to the great financiers, " has led to a threefold struggle 
for domination. First, there is the struggle for dictatorship in 
the economic sphere itself ; then the fierce battle to acquire the 
control of the State so that its resources and authority may be 
abused in the economic struggle ; finally, the clash between states 
themselves. This latter arises from two causes : because the 
nations apply their power and political influence, regardless of 
circumstances to promote the economic advantage of the 
citizens ; and because vice-versa economic forces and economic 
domination are used to decide political controversies between 
peoples .” 3 

1 Qaadragesimo Anno, pp. 47, 48. 

2 For some interesting illustrations of the power of financiers in dictating 
policy, cf. Count Corti — Reign of the House of Rothschild (Gollanez, London, 
193 °)- 

a Quadragesima Anno, p. 47. 



Threatened Ruin ol European Civilisation. — Not only does 
this modem individualistic capitalism tend to produce the 
dreadful clashes netween nations of which the Pope speaks, 
but it also, especially at the present day, bears in its bosom 
the germs of revolution and social upheaval. Leo XIII, 
writing of capitalism forty-one years ago, refers in a passage 
already quoted to the labouring population who have been 
disinherited through its operation as “ the needy and power- 
less multitude broken down and suffering and ever ready 
for disturbance.” It is certain that the poverty and in- 
security, and in many cases degrading human conditions 
to which so large a proportion of the labouring population 
are at present subjected are unnatural, and preventible, 
as well as unjust ; and that there is in reality abundance for 
all, or at least an abundance of natural resources which 
could be developed, were it not for the tyrannical and unjust 
control exercised by the capitalistic magnates. Such con- 
ditions are in modem times incompatible with national 
stability. Hence it is generally admitted that European 
society, especially in the more capitalistic countries, cannot 
last long in its present state of unstable equilibrium. 

“ Is it surprising then,” writes Pius XI, “ that we should no 
longer possess that security of life in which we can place our 
trust, and that there remains only the most terrible uncertainty 
and added fears for the future. Instead of regular daily work 
there is idleness and unemplo}unent. That blessed tranquillity 
which is the effect of an orderly existence ... is no longer to 
be found, and in its place is the restless spirit of revolt .” 1 

One of the possible results of revolution, or even of a great 
European war, would be an attempt or attempts in different 
countries to establish Socialism which wc shall next discuss. 

1 Ubi Arcano (1922). 



Art. 1 — Introduction 

Relations to Capitalism. — Socialism is in part a reaction 
against Capitalism, its economic theories being, at least in 
appearance, the reverse of the Liberal principles which form 
the philosophic groundwork of the capitalistic system. The 
socialist theories owe such attractiveness as they possess for 
the labouring population mainly to the opposition in 
economic doctrine between Socialism and Capitalism, and to 
the avowed purpose of Socialists to heal the evils which 
Capitalism has produced. In reality, however, the differences 
between Socialism and Capitalism are not so great as may 
seem on the surface. In both systems alike power is concen- 
trated in the hands of a few (viz., the great financiers in one 
case and the political leaders in the other), and in both also 
the mass of the people are propertyless, helpless, and practi- 
cally enslaved. Again, the moral and political principles on 
which Socialism rests are, like those of Liberalism and 
Capitalism, purely materialistic. Like Liberalism, too. 

1 Cf. Diet. Apolog. de la Foi Cathol., cols. 1396-1446, art. " Socialisme.” 
Gettelmann-Cathrein — Socialism (Bcnzigcr, New York, 1904) ; Elder — 
A Study in Socialism (Herder, London, 1919) ; Stang — Socialism and 
Christianity ; Kelleher — Private Ownership (Gill, Dublin, 1911), chaps, v 
and viii ; Antoine, op. cit., chap, ix ; Belliot, op. cit., pp. 310-363 (*' Ecole 
Socialistc ”) ; C. S. Devas — Socialism (booklet o£ the International Cath. 
Truth Soc., New York) ; Cath. Encyclop. — arts. " Socialism, ” “ Com- 
munism,” ” Collectivism,” “ Bolshevism ” (Supplementary vol., 1922) ; 
Palgrave — Diet, of Pol. Econ. — arts. " Socialism,” " Marx,” etc. ; Cronin — 
Science of Ethics, vol. ii, chaps, v-viii ; Ryan — Distributive Justice, chaps, 
iii, iv and xi ; Nesta Webster — The Socialist Network (London, 1926) ; 
Gide and Rist — History of Economic Doctrines, bk. ii, chaps, ii, iv and v; 
bk. iv, chaps, ii and iii ; bk. v, chap. iv. Sydney and Beatrice Webb — 
Problems of Modern Industry, chap, ii ; Sydney Webb — Socialism in 
England ; Karl Marx — Capital (translated from the German by Moore and 
Aveling, 15th Edition, London, 1918) ; Karl Kautslcy — The Capitalist 
Class (The Socialist Press, Glasgow) ; Riaznov — Karl Marx and Frederick 
Engels (Laurence, London, 1927) (Riazanov is the Director of the Marx- 
Plngels Institute in Moscow. His philosophy is one of undiluted 
Materialism) . 




Socialism is in its origin and history closely associated with 
Freemasonry, and Talmudic Judaism, and is no less hostile 
to Christianity. 1 

Anarchism. — The close relations between Socialism and 
Liberalism are illustrated by the fact that the Anarchists 
are frequently classed with Socialists, although their doctrine 
and system, which are those of Naturalism and ultra- 
individualism, are definitely founded on the Liberalist con- 
ception of life. While Liberals would reduce the role of 
the Government to a minimum, the Anarchists would 
completely abolish all civil and religious authority as well 
as private property and class distinction which, they say, 
are the root cause of dissensions between men. They hope 
when these are removed that men wdll live together in 
harmony and peace without the aid of any governing 
authority. The principal means advocated by the radical 
or revolutionary Anarchists are the violent spoliation of 
the capitalists, the burning of title-deeds, the assassination 
of rulers, and the replacing of the existing social organism 
by a federation of groups. Another school of Anarchists, 
however, hold that the end in view will be better promoted 
by peaceful propaganda, education, co-operation, etc. The 
best known exponents of Anarchism are Bakunin ( d . 1876) 
and Prince Kropatkin of Russia ; Eliseus Reclus and 
Proudhon ( d . 1865) of France ; and J. Most of Germany. 2 

Syndicalism. — Syndicalism, founded in France (1895), is 
one type of Anarchism ; for the Syndicalists aim at eliminat- 
ing completely the central government of the State. They 
would have the State made up entirely of industrial and 
perhaps other syndicates, each syndicate including all the 
workers engaged in the industry and owning and con- 
trolling it completely. The State would be a kind of free 
federation of syndicates. Again, the syndicalists aim at 
realising their ideal through the means of sabotage, the 
general strike, revolution and confiscation. The Industrial 

1 Cf. Cahill, op. cit. ( See Index under “Jews,” “Liberalism” and 
Communism "). 

2 Cf. Cath. Encyclop. and Encyclop. Britt., art. " Anarchy ” ; Antoine, 
loc. cit., art. 4 ; Elder, op. cit., second part, chap, iii ; Cathrein, op. cit., 
pp. 14 fi ; Palgrave, op. cit. ( See Index under “ Anarchism ") ; Cahill, 
op. cit. ( See Index under “ Anarchy and F .'.”). 



Workers of the World (T.W.U.) of U.S.A. (founded by 
E. Dobbs and W. Haywood in 1905), profess the syndicalist 
doctrines. 1 

Division of Subject. — Before discussing Socialism we shall 
first treat briefly of Idealistic Co mm unism. For the latter, 
although differing essentially from Socialism, contains some 
ideals and principles which Socialists have utilized in 
elaborating their theories. Russian Bolshevism, which is 
a contemporary and relentless application of Socialist prin- 
ciples followed out to their logical conclusions shall be 
treated in a separate chapter. 

Art. 2 — Idealistic Communism 

Meaning and Use of Term. — The term Communism is 
sometimes loosely applied to all types of economic organisa- 
tion in which private ownership of property is either wholly 
or partially excluded, whether voluntarily or by law. 
Hence Marxian Socialism, in which the private ownership 
of productive property is regarded as invalid and immoral, 
while ownership of consumers’ property is allowed, is some 
times referred to as Communism. Thus the Manifesto of 
Marx and Engels (published in 1848) which began the 
modern Socialistic movement was called by them the 
“ Communist Manifesto.” Hence, too, Russian Bolshevism 
is termed Communism. 

Tho term Communism is also usually applied to the 
historical schemes for establishing certain ideally arranged 
communities, organised, like the family or religious orders, 
on the basis of the members holding all their property in 
common. The members, under the direction of a head, 
labour and serve the community, each in proportion to his 
or her capacity, while each receives from the common store 
what he or she needs. This latter type of Communism we 
term for the sake of clearness. Idealistic and the other 
Revolutionary. In the present article we treat only of 
Idealistic Communism. 

1 Cf. Cath. Encyclop. — art. " Syndicalism. ” ; Clay — Syndicalism and 
Labour (New York, 1911) ; Hunter — Violence and the Labour Movement 
(New York, 1914). 



Ancient Pagan Communism. — In Crete as early as 
1300 B.C., all civil institutions are said to have been 
organised on a communistic basis. All the citizens were 
educated by the State in a uniform way, and all ate at the 
common tables. The constitution of the Greek city-state 
of Sparta (or Lacedaemon), said to have been drawn up 
by Lycurgus (about 900 B.C.), is supposed to have been 
similar. 1 The Empire of the Incas of Peru is also said to 
have been organised on a communistic basis. 2 

The Communism of Sparta, however (and probably also 
that of Crete), was far from being perfect or complete. The 
privileges of common ownership and civic equality were 
confined to the dominant or free class, which formed only a 
small minority of the whole population. Hence in Sparta, 
the Helots, who were a subject race, and did most of the 
productive work, were slaves in the worst sense of the term. 
The Communism described and advocated by Plato in his 
“ Republic,” in which there was to be a community of 
property, of meals, and even of wives, and in which the 
State was to control the education, the marriages and the 
occupations of the citizens, 3 is said to have been suggested 
by the Spartan constitution. Like the latter, Plato excluded 
slaves from the common privileges and rights. 

Christian Communism. — There is, however, a more real, 
and genuine type of Idealistic Communism, the one, namely, 
that has been inspired by motives of religion, and especially 
by the teachings of Christianity. Most of the religious, or 
quasi-religious Orders that have arisen within or without 
the Catholic Church exhibit some of the features of 

The full ideal of the communal life is realised in the 
Religious Orders and Congregations of both sexes in the 
Catholic Church. According to the constitutions of these 
bodies, private ownership, or at least the independent use 

1 Cf. Plutarch’s Lives (“ Lycurgus ”), and Thucydides’ History, i, x ; 
also Myers — General History, chap. xiii. Whether or to what extent these 
States were really communistic is much disputed. 

a This, too, is doubtful — cf. Gide — Communist and Co-operative Colonies 
(Harrap, London, 1930), chap. iii. 

8 Cf. Plato — Republic (London, 1892) ; also Elder, op. cit.. Second Part, 
chap. i. 



of property, is completely excluded. All the members work 
under the direction of a Superior, each according to his or 
her capacity, while each receives from the common store 
what he or she needs. 

Many of the early Christians also, even while living in 
the world with their families, voluntarily adopted the 
communal life . 1 Further, as we have already pointed out, 
there existed a very notable communal element in the 
Christian mediaeval social organisation. Indeed this element 
may be regarded as an essential constituent of the Christian 
social system . 2 

The Reductions of Paraguay (1608-1757), which were 
organised under the direction of the Jesuit missionary 
fathers, were on a partially communal basis, and form the 
most noted and successful communistic experiment hitherto 
known outside religious life. 3 

Again, some of the early and mediaeval heretical sects, 
such as the Anabaptists, the Catharists, the Brothers and 
Sisters of the Free Spirit, proclaimed the necessity of 
Communism for all Christians. Finally in the 18th and 
19th centuries, several non-Catholic religious associations 
organised on a communal basis, arose in the United States 
of America. Among these were the Ephratic Community 
(founded 1732), the Shakers (1787), the Harmonists (1805). 
One Community of the Shakers apparently still existed in 
1925, 4 and is probably not yet extinct. 

More’s Utopia. — Blessed Thomas More’s celebrated work, 
Utopia, which contains a romantic description in the form 
of a dialogue of an imaginary commonwealth organised on 
a communistic basis, is perhaps the most inspiring treatise 
on Communism ever written . 5 The work was meant as a 
protest against the oppressive practices (such as the unjust 
enclosure of the common lands, the raising of the rent, etc.) 
which some of the British landowners indulged in under the 
Tudors. The result of these measures was to produce the 

1 Cf. Acts of the Apostles, ii. 44, 45 ; iv. 32-37, v. 1-4. 

8 Cf. supra, chap, vi, art 1. 

3 Cf. Cath. Encyclop., art. “ Reductions ” ; also Gide, op. cit., chap. v. 

4 Cf. Cath. Encyclop., vol. iv, p. 181, “ Communism ” ; also Gide, op. cit. , 
chap. vi. 

6 The original of the Utopia is in Latin. Robinson’s translation was 
made in 1551, of which cf. Dibbin's edition (London, 1808). 



beginnings of the poverty and insecurity which, later on, 
became so marked a feature of capitalistic England. 

In “ Utopia,” as in Plato’s Republic, all the goods are 
held in common, but there is no community of wives, and 
the sanctity of family relations is fully provided for. The 
advocacy of State Communism, however, which the book 
contains is put by More into the mouth of Raphael Hythoday 
liis principal interlocutor. More himself rejects Hythoday’s 
theories and advocates instead the practice of charity and 
the Church’s traditional doctrines regarding private owner- 
ship. 1 

Among several other descriptions of ideal communistic 
states which owe their inspiration to More’s Utopia, the 
best known are Campanella’s City of the Sun (1625), Francis 
Bacon’s New Atlantis (1629), and Harrington’s Oceana 
(1656). 2 

Unchristian Communistic Reformers. — Gracchus Babeuf 
(guillotined 1797), Charles Founder (d. 1837), and Etienne 
Cabet ( d . 1856), all advocated Communism in their writings. 3 
Their inspiration came from the spirit of the French 
Revolution. Hence their ideals were those of Liberalism, 
so that religion had no place in their system. Again, 
Robert Owen of Wales (d. 1858), one of the great pioneers 
of the modern labour movement, which he has influenced 
deeply, and the first to call public attention to the wretched 
condition of the British factory workers (he introduced many 
salutary reforms in his own spinning factory at Lanark), 
elaborated also a type of Communism on a purely material- 
istic basis. 4 

These writings contained the principles, mostly material- 
istic and unchristian, on which several purely secular 
communistic societies (different from the non-Catholic but 

1 Cf . Campbell — More’s Utopia and his Social Teaching (Eyre and Spottis- 
woode, London, 1930). 

2 Cf. Morley’s Ideal Commonwealths (London), 1885 ; also Elder, op. cit., 
Second Part, chap. i. 

3 Cf. Palgrave, op. cit., arts. “ Communism,” ” Babeuf,” etc. ; also Gide, 
op. cit., chaps, vi-viii. See also ib., chaps, ix and x for an interesting and 
useful sketch of a number of agrarian communities, some cooperative, 
and others partially communistic, including some of the recently estab. 
lished Zionist communities in Palestine. 

* Cf. Palgrave, op. cit., vol. iii, pp. 46-52. 




religious American communities already referred to) such 
as the Icarians and the New Harmony Community, all 
very short-lived, were founded in the United States during 
the 19th century. 1 

Critique of Idealistic Communism. — We may summarise 
as follows our criticism of idealistic Communism : 

I. A social system in which “ mine ” and “ thine ” are 
practically excluded, and in which all the members of the 
community labour for the good of all in proportion to each 
one’s capacity is an ideal which, from the beginning has 
inspired generous and noble souls. It probably would have 
been the normal system of society but for man’s fall, and 
would be still possible at least for a large percentage of the 
human race were it not for human passions and ignorance 
and sin. 

II. The complete equality between men, as they now 
are, which communist idealists insist upon and seek to 
realise, is a well meant but mistaken interpretation of the 
great truth that the inalienable rights attaching to human 
personality are the same for all. The source of the error 
lies in ignoring the fact that since the capabilities and 
circumstances of men vary indefinitely, their acquired or 
accidental rights will not be equal. Hence Pope Leo XIII 
writes : 

“ It is impossible to reduce society to one dead level. . . . 
There naturally exist among mankind manifold differences of 
the most important kind. People differ in capacity, skill, health, 
energy ; and unequal fortune is a necessary result of unequal 
conditions.” 2 * 

III. Nevertheless, a very notable element of the com- 
munal ideal, at least as regards the use and to a certain 
extent the ownership of property, may be regarded as 
practically essential to the Christian concept of society, 
which is opposed to excessive individualism. The want of 
this essential element in the modern unchristian social 
organisation is accountable for most of the unjust and 
oppressive anomalies, which some well-meaning reformers 

1 Cf. Nordhoff — Communistic Societies of the United States (New York. 

* 8 57 ) ; Gide, op. cit., chap. vii. 

* Rerun Novarum, 1891, p. 187. 



have observed without correctly analysing their causes and 
true remedies. 

IV. The enforcement by law of absolute communism by 
which men would bo excluded from acquiring or enjoying 
the ownership of property, w r ould be unjust and immoral. 
Men have a natural right to acquire the owner ship of 
property, at least within certain limits ; and even though 
individuals may, if they so wish, forego their right, they 
cannot ordinarily be deprived of it without their own 

Besides the system of private ownership is the only 
practical method upon which society can be successfully 
organised, as long as men retain their present character- 
istics. Hence that system is imposed by the Law of Nations 
(Jus Gentium), 1 as being essential for men’s well-being. 

V. Given man’s natural tendencies and needs, a per- 
manent communistic society is normally possible only in 
the case of such as choose that type of life from religious 
motives, and live under strong religious influences. Even 
in such cases a permanent communal life is usually possible 
only for celibates, or for small communities living a simple 
life separated from outside influences. 2 

Art. 3 — Nature of Socialism 

Use of Term. — The term Socialism is often used vaguely 
to indicate any increase of collective or state control over 
individual action, and especially over economic activities. 
It is also sometimes employed invidiously to designate the 
lawful defensive movements of the poorer classes, or even 
the necessary measures of the government to curtail the 
privileges of the wealthy owners. Omitting these mis- 
leading applications of the term, and many others more or 
less inaccurate, 3 we treat here only of Socialism properly 

1 Cf. chap, vi, art I. 

3 Cf. Cath. Encyclop., art. “ Communism,” p. 182 ; also Gide — Political 
Economy, bk. iii, chap, i, sec. 2, " Communism.” 

3 For a sketch of several theories and movements sometimes incorrectly 
styled Socialism and the orthodox Catholic attitude towards them, and 
especially for some account of the important proposal called " Guild 
Socialism,” cf. McEntee, op. cit., chap, iii ; also Moon — The Labour 
Problem and Social Catholic Movement in France (Macmillan, New York, 
J921), chap. xii. 



so-called, namely, the theory and system of social organisa- 
tion, which under the name of Socialism is definitely con- 
demned by the Church. This implies essentially a negation 
or prohibition of individual ownership of productive pro- 
perty, and an excessive and unnatural degree of state 
control. It may be defined as a system of social and 
economic organisation in which the State becomes sole owner 
of all the sources of production and means of distribution, and 
assumes to itself a despotic control of the chief activities of 
human life . 1 

Fundamental Principle of the Socialist Economic System. — 

The avowed object of the socialist reformers is not so much 
to establish a system in which universal brotherhood is 
realised (which is the aim of Idealistic Communism), but 
rather one in which everybody receives the fruit of his or 
her own labour . 2 According to their theory the greater 
portion of the fruit of the hired worker’s labour is, and in 
the present economic system must be, appropriated by the 
employer. Hence, they say, the system is essentially 

1 Cf. Cath. Encyclop., vol. xiv, pp. 62 ff. (An excellent sketch of 
Socialism by Toke and Campbell) ; and Diet. Apologet., loc. cit., for a still 
fuller and more up to date (1928) account. It should be noted that at 
present many people who call themselves Socialists have mitigated, in some 
cases they almost entirely reject, some of the fundamental principles of 
Socialism, at least as far as the practical application of these principles 
is concerned. This applies especially to the theories of class warfare, and 
the abolition of private property. They also condemn recourse to physical 
force. “ It would seem,” writes Pius XI, “ as if Socialism were afraid of 
its own principles, and of the conclusions drawn therefrom by the [more 
logical] communists, and in consequence were drifting towards the truth 
which Christian tradition has always held in respect. For it cannot be 
denied that its programmes often strikingly approach the just demands 
of Christian social reformers. . . . Just demands and desires of this kind 
contain nothing opposed to Christian truth, nor are they in any sense 
peculiar to Socialism. . . . They are defended much more cogently by 
the principles of Christian faith ; and are promoted much more efiicaclousiy 
by the power of Christian charity.” (Qu adr age simo Anno, 1931, pp. 50-52, 
C. T. S. edition). 

2 Most of the Socialist leaders have been wealthy, and very many are 
millionaires. Among these latter may be mentioned Vandervelde, in 
Belgium; Bebel and Singer, in Germany; Millerand, Jaures, Gerault- 
Kichard, Bertaux, Vaillant and J.a Furgue, in France. Engels, the brother- 
in-law of K. Marx (who himself was far from poor), died in London in 
1895, leaving his heirs 630,000 francs (£25,200). Cf. Belliot, loc. cit., 
p. 359. Note also that the Continental Socialist leaders are mostly, if 
not all. Freemasons. Ib., p. 360 ; also Cahill, op. cit. (Index, under 
Socialism and F.). 



unjust , 1 and necessarily loads to the concentration of the 
wealth of the State in the hands of a small capitalist class 
of parasites. The abolition of the wage system is therefore 
one of their primary objects. 

Now the wage system and the private ownership of pro- 
ductive property are essentially connected with each other. 
Hence, the latter, too, is unjust and immoral and must cease, 
at least in so far as it needs the employment of hired labour. 
Private individuals may indeed own property such as food, 
clothing, dwellinghouses, gardens, vehicles, furniture, orna- 
ments, books and musical instruments. They may even 
accumulate wealth in gold, silver or precious stones. The 
one all-important type of property from which they are, 
at least partially, excluded, is what is known as productive 
goods or capital, such as lands, mines and machinery. 
These the individual cannot own, except in so far as he 
can utilise or exploit them by his own personal labour. He 
cannot employ wage labourers to work them, nor can he 
trade in them for personal profit. The main outlines of the 
socialist economic system are summarised in the following 
passage of a contemporary writer : 

“ The people collectively is (in the Socialist system) sole pro- 
prietor not of all the wealth of the country, but of all the wealth 
that may be lawfully employed for producing other wealth by 
means of buying and selling or other contracts. A man may 
thus own the house he lives in, the coat upon his back, the wine 
in his cellar, even the garden that grows cabbages for his table, 
but he may not hire hands to cultivate the garden and then sell 
the produce ; he may not build houses and rent them ; he may 
not import wine for the market. The State will be sole land- 
lord, sole manufacturer, sole owner of shipping and railroads, 
and all branches of the carrying trade, sole exploiter of mines, 
sole practitioner of medicine (taking fees), sole educator, sole 
keeper of wine and spirit vaults, sole merchant and sole retail 
dealer — in a word, sole capitalist. The only way to wealth for 
the individual will be his own personal labour ; he will get nothing 
but the wage of his work . . . Mental labour will be rewarded 
as well as bodily. . . . Everyone will receive pay who does work 
useful for the community and no one else will receive anything. 

. . . Labour will be paid . . . not in proportion to the ex- 

l Cf. Pius XI, Quadragesima Anno, 1931, pp. 30 II. (C. T. S. edition 
London, 1931). 



cellence of the work, hut in proportion to the time that the 
workman, manual or intellectual, may be supposed to have 
taken in acquiring his skill. The apprenticeship will be counted 
into the value of the labour.” 1 

The Class War.— Further, since the wage-earners are con- 
stantly being deprived of their just rights by the capitalist 
employers, and the interests of these two classes are dia- 
metrically opposed, their normal relations to each other 
must consist in mutual hostility, distrust, and struggle till 
the capitalist owners are finally eliminated or destroyed. 
In other words, the Class War is assumed to be a necessary 
and normal characteristic of our present social and economic 

From all this it is clear that the establishment of a full 
Socialist regime would involve a complete and probably 
violent transfer of all capital to the State, and that, too, 
apparently, without compensation to the present individual 
owners. (This is what actually took place in the Bolshevist 
Revolution in Russia in 1917.) And if some Socialist 
reformers such as the advocates of State Socialism are 
willing to make many concessions to the exigencies of the 
status quo such concessions arc intended to hold good only 
during a transition period or until the time is ripe for the 
abolition of all private ownership of capital. 

Philosophic Ground-work of the Socialistic System. — 

Closely connected with their economic principles and aims, 
or rather as a philosophic back-ground and basis for them, 
Socialist reformers put forward a definite all-round philosophy 
of human life. In the Socialist philosophical system, which 
like that of Liberalism is purely materialistic, no account 
is taken of moral or spiritual goods nor of any life beyond 
the present. All human wants and desires are centred on 
temporal benefits and animal gratification. Hence all 
human activities are dominated by economic relations and 
are to be viewed only from the economic standpoint. 

Consequential Principles. — From these principles it follows 
that duties and rights in regard to family and country, 

1 Rev. J. Rickaby, S.J . — Catholicism and Socialism (Cath. Truth Society, 
London, 1905), pp. 2-3. 


i 67 

duties even toward God Himself cease to have any place 
or meaning ; and the virtues of filial piety, patriotism 1 and 
religion are eliminated from human life. 

Again, seeing that no private individual can control pro- 
ductive property, no one can be primarily responsible even 
for the support of his own wife or children. For these, as 
for all else, the State is primarily responsible. The State, 
too, has supreme control in the education of the children. 
Consequently the family disappears as a divinely instituted 
and independent society, and the permanency of the 
marriage tie is no longer necessary or desirable. 2 Finally, 
since religion has no rational basis in the Socialist philosophy, 
the Church disappears as a public institution, and has no 
rights or standing in a Socialist State. 

Such in brief are the main outlines of the system which 
the Socialists are determined to erect on the ruins of the 
existing civilisation ; and in which, as its votaries promise, 
“ idleness or selfishness or sin will be unknown,’ and “ all 
will have plenty and be content ; and the sweet spirit of 
comradeship will blossom forth like the fabled rose of un- 
changing beauty.” 3 

Art. 3 — Historical Sketch of Socialism 
Genesis of the Socialist Economic Theories. — Several of 
the ideas and principles of the system were borrowed 
originally from the Communist writers already referred to, 
such as Babeuf, Fourrier, and Robert Owen, as well as from 
other nineteenth century economists. Among these latter 
may be mentioned Henri St. Simon ( d . 1825) and Louis 
Blanc ( d . 1882) of France, Karl Robertus [d. 1875), and 
Ferdinand Lasalle ( d . 1864) (founder of the “ German 
Workman’s Party ”) of Germany, Godwin (d. 1836), and 
C. Hall ( d . 1825) of England. 4 In the writings of these are 

1 “ The workers have no country. What they have not got cannot be 
taken from them.” This is the reply given by Marx and Engels in the 
Communist Manifesto to the accusation that they " wish to abolish all 
national and patriotic aspirations.” Cf. Manifesto of the Communist Party 
(Socialist Press, Glasgow, 1909), p. 19. 

2 Cf. Ib. ; also Cathrein and Elder, op. cit. 

2 See Elder, op. cit.. First Part, chap. i. 

1 Cf . Palgrave, op. cit., under each name; also Elder, op. cit., Second 
Part, chap. iii. See also McEntee, op. cit., pp. 96 fi, where the fundamental 
doctrines of Socialism are traced to the works of English writers of the 
first half of the 19th century. Cf. also Riazanov, op. cit., chaps, i and ii. 



to be found most of the principles and shibboleths, partly 
true, partly false, which are now, commonly associated with 
socialist propaganda, such as “ Property is Theft,” “ All 
men are equal by nature and by law,” “ Appropriation by 
individuals of the unearned increment is unjust,” etc., etc. 
These writings also, especially those of the English econo- 
mists, contain the substance of the theories of “ Surplus 
Value,” “ the Exploitation of the Poor by the Rich,” “ the 
Class War,” etc., which form the basis of Marx’s great work, 
Das Kapital. 

“ Iron Law of Wages.” — Lasallc’s special contribution 
to the socialist structure is his celebrated theory of “ The 
Iron Law of Wages,” which, however, Marx did not adopt. 
The average rate of the labourer’s wages, according to 
Lasalle’s theory, cannot rise above the standard “ which is 
necessary in order to secure to the labourer the possibility 
of existence and propagation,” otherwise there would result 
from the easier and better conditions of the labourer an 
increase of the labouring population and of the supply of 
hands, which would again reduce the wages to the average 
rate or even below it. “ Nor can wages permanently fall 
below the average necessary for the sustenance of life, for 
this would give rise to emigration, celibacy, prevention of 
propagation, and finally the diminution of the labouring 
population, which would . . . again raise wages to their 
former or even to a higher rate. . . . Actual wages, there- 
fore, constantly oscillate about this centre of gravity to 
which they must always return, and around which they 
must revolve.” 1 

Karl Marx. — Karl Marx ( d . 1883) is the real founder of 
modern Socialism, athough Bakunin, the Anarchist leader, 
on the one hand, and Lasalle on the other, influenced the 
movement very considerably. All the different types of 
real Socialism, which are very numerous, are based on the 
Marxian system. Marx was a native of Treves, and although 

1 Cited in Cathrein, op. cit., p. 196, from Lasalle’s Offenes Antwortschrciben 
pp. 10-12. It should be noted that Lasalle's conclusion actually applies 
only to cases where the wage rate is controlled completely by supply and 
demand. The " Iron Law ” should, and under a Christian regime would, 
be counteracted by wise protective legislation, and by the organisation of 
strong labour unions. Cf. Cathrein, op. cit., pp. 196-200. 



born of Jewish parents, became a Protestant. He and his 
friend Frederick Engels, also a German Jew, published in 
1848 the Communist Manifesto, which, with Das Kapital, is 
referred to by the Socialists as the Charter of Freedom and 
the Bible of the -working classes. The Manifesto, which is a 
brief and forcible exposition of the whole socialist doctrine, 
closes with the well known words : “ The Communists . . . 
openly declare that their ends can only be obtained by the 
forcible overthrow of existing social conditions. Let the 
ruling classes tremble at a Communistic Revolution. The 
Proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains ! They 
have a world to win ! Proletarians of all lands Unite ! ” l 

International Workers’ Association (L’lnternationale).— 

As a result of the revolutions which occurred all over Europe 
in 1848, the revolutionary societies were suppressed in 
nearly every continental country, and the leaders banished. 
Most of the leaders, and Marx among them, took refuge in 
England. In London, Marx founded, in 1864, “ The Inter- 
national Workmen’s Association,” which met annually in 
different European cities, such as Geneva, Brussels, London, 
and Basle. This organisation has given Socialism immense 
power and influence, by erecting it into what is almost a 
world-wide association, and thus bringing home to the 
organised working classes of Europe and America that their 
grievances and discontent are shared by their fellow-workers 
the world over. The object of the “ International,” as it is 
called, is to bring about the “ Great Revolution ” by means 
of simultaneous risings all over the world, in order that thus 
the government of one country would not be able to come 
to the assistance of another. 

The first practical result of the “ International ” was the 
rising of the Paris Commune in 1871, in which the fierce 
anti-Christian and destructive character of Socialism was 
displayed. The “ International ” collapsed soon after 1871, 
principally owing to the failure of the Paris Revolution. 
In 1889 a second “ International ” was formed, being made 
up of Socialist and trade union delegates. This continued 
to meet till the beginning of the European War in 1914, 
when it again collapsed. 2 

1 Cl. Manifesto of the Communist Party, p. 29. 

2 Cf. Webster, op. cit., chaps, ii-iv ; Elder, op. tit.. Second Part, cliap. iii. 



It was again revived in 1918 after the War. Amsterdam 
is the centre of the revived organisation, which is called 
“ The Third International.” The Third International seems 
to have met little success partly owing to irreconcilable 
differences of opinion, regarding the attitude to be adopted 
towards the full Marxian policy of revolution, but mainly 
because the Amsterdam International is being gradually 
overshadowed by the “ Komintem ” (of which we shall 
treat later) or Communist International of Moscow, which 
is also called “The Third International.” 1 

Das Kapital. — In 1867 Marx published the first volume 
of Das Kapital, the monumental work in which his whole 
system is elaborated, and which still remains the authori- 
tative exposition of orthodox Socialism. The two remain- 
ing volumes which were published by Engels after Marx’s 
death contain very little additional matter of importance. 

The substance of Das Kapital is a dexterous combination 
of the evolutionism of Hegel, the revolutionary doctrines of 
the writers associated with the French Revolution of 1879, 
and the economic theories of the Liberal economist, Ricardo, 
combined with those of the unchristian Communists already 
referred to. The basic principles of Marx’s system are con- 
tained in the Materialistic Conception of History and his 
theory of Surplus Value. 

(a) Materialistic Conception of History.—- This conception 
of human history, which is founded upon a philosophy of 
pure materialism, would have it that the whole structure 
of our present society both in its material elements and the 
principles and ideas that govern it, is the result of the 
existing system of production and distribution. Hence all 
our so-cailed fundamental truths and principles, such as 
the belief in God’s existence, the idea that murder, theft, 
adultery, etc., are unlawful, have no objective reality. They 
are merely the reflection in the human mind of exterior 
ceonomic conditions. In this philosophy free-will dis- 
appears, the idea of God is eliminated, and all moral respon- 
sibility as well as all motives for religion or charity, honour 
or patriotism are taken away. 

1 Cf. Encyclop. Brit., vol. 20 (14th edit., 1929), art. “ Socialism,” 
pp. 892, 893 ; also Gautherot — Le Monde Communiste (Edition " Spes.,” 
Paris, 1925), PP- 5 °- 55 - 



(b) Theory of Surplus Value. — Marx’s theory of Surplus 
Value is as follows He first correctly distinguishes the 
two types of value, viz., value in use, which is measured by 
the utility of the object in satisfying human wants, and 
value in exchange, which depends upon the extent to which 
use-value may be purchased by the object. He next lays 
down, with some of the classical economists, the unproved 
and false principle that exchange value accrues to 
merchandise only on account of human labour . 1 From this 
doctrine of value he passes on to consider the nature of the 
modern wage contract : what the employer undertakes to 
buy from the labourer is the labour capacity of the latter. 
The price which the employer pays the labourer for his 
labour capacity corresponds, according to Marx, to its 
exchange value, whereas he (the employer) receives in return 
its use-value, which is very much greater than the exchange 
value. The excess of the use-value over the exchange- 
value is called the surplus-value , 2 This surplus-value 
which belonged to the labourer but was unjustly filched 
from him by the employer is the source of all the capitalist’s 
profits and accumulated wealth. These gains are therefore 
essentially unjust and no better than theft . 3 

(c) Marxian State. — Marx then explains in accordance 
with his materialistic conception of history the coming in- 
evitable transformation of society into the future Socialistic 
State : society, as constituted at present, is unnatural and 
unjust, and therefore involves a constant mutual antagonism 
of class against class. As a result of the growing burdens 
of the people, the increasing number of crises, and the con- 
sequent cl ass -war, revolution will be necessarily produced, 
and “ the expropriators shall be expropriated.” From this 
revolution the Socialist commonwealth will be evolved. 

1 Capital, chap. i. Besides the element of labour, several other elements 
have to be considered in reckoning the exchange value of a commodity, 
especially its utility, the degree of demand for it, its scarcity or the reverse. 
Cf. Cathrein, op. cit., chaps, i and ii. 

2 Capital, chap. vii. This theory of surplus-value resting on the false 
theory referred to in a previous note regarding the foundations of exchange- 
value is also itself false. C 1 . Cathrein, lb. ; Elder, op. cit.. Part i, chap, i 
(See Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno (1931), pp. 26—28 (C. T. S. edition, 
London, 1931). 

3 Capital, chaps, xxiv, xxv. Cf. also Cathrein, op. cit., pp. 46-53, and 
Elder, loc. cit. 


the framework of a Christian state 

This will be a complete democracy 1 owning all the means 
of production and distribution. In this new type of social 
organisation all private property and class distinction will 
be unknow'n ; everyone will work, but, owing to education, 
labour will be a pleasure. 2 

Spread of Marx’s Teachings. — Owing to the prevalent 
injustice and misery resulting from unjust social conditions 
the teachings of Marx were eagerly embraced by the dis- 
inherited proletariat. The movement was supported, 
especially by the Jewish element of the population in almost 
every country. 3 Thus Socialism rapidly spread, and sub- 
versive movements, more or less strong, w r ere organised and 
promoted during the last quarter of the 19th and the first 
decade of the 20th century. 

Meanwhile, simultaneously with the spread of Inter- 
national Socialism, there arose in various countries local 
socialistic organisations each borrowing its colouring from 
national character and conditions. In Germany, the father- 
land of dogmatic or “ scientific ” Socialism, the socialistic 
movement was strongest up to the period of the European 
War. The first leaders, Marx, Engels, and Lasallc were 
followed and assisted by Liebknecht, Bebel and Singer, all 
Marxians. In 1874 socialist members were elected for the 
first time to the Reichstag, and a strong socialist political 
party was formed. A similar development took place in 
Belgium, France and Italy. In 1891, the “ Erfurt Pro- 
gramme ,” embodying Marx’s principles, was formally 
adopted by the German Socialist Party, and still remains 
the official creed of the more advanced socialist parties in 
most countries. 

Revisionist Movement. In 1899, however, Edward 
Bernstein started the “ Revisionist ” movement which 
rapidly gained ground up to 1914. The “ Revisionists ” 
concentrated upon obtaining through the constitutional 

1 The fact that the Russian Soviet Government is not, and does not 
profess to be, a democracy, seems to be one of the principal reasons why 
they term their system Communism rather than Socialism. Cf. Official 
Report of British Trades Union Delegation to Russia, 1924, p. 3. 

2 Capital, chap, xxxii. Cf. also Cathrein, loc. cit., for a fuller sketch of 
Marx's ideal commonwealth. 

2 Cf. Cahill, op. cit., pp. 169 ff. 



government definite social reforms. They “ revise ” (viz., 
change or depart from) several of the Marxian doctrines. 
The Social Democrats, who form a majority in the present 
(1931) German Government, are mostly of the Revisionist 
School, while the so-called “ Spartikist ” party form the 
more radical and revolutionary section. 

In other countries the same two tendencies, namely, the 
Parliamentary and the Revolutionary agitations, struggle 
for the upper hand, now one, now the other becoming pre- 
dominant. Since the European War, however, and the great 
Russian Revolution, there has been a decided swing of the 
pendulum towards revolutionary Socialism. Nominally, the 
two types differ only in methods ; but in reality they 
frequently differ in principles. 1 

State Socialism.— The Parliamentary Socialists, while not 
rejecting completely the private ownership of productive 
property, deny that it is a natural right, and allow it only 
as a concession of the State. Further, they leave out 
religion from every effort to alleviate the sufferings of the 
masses. They aim at “ nationalising ” all the great financial 
and industrial enterprises of the country so that the State 
would become the universal treasurer and banker, the 
general agent of transport and commerce, the exclusive 
distributor of labour and of wealth, of means of education 
and of all social aid — in a word, the promoter and regulator 
of all national activity. That is what is commonly termed 
State Socialism , and is substantially the aim not merely of 
the Revisionist Socialists of Germany, but of the moderate 
socialists of England, 2 France, Belgium,^ America and 

Revolutionary Socialism. — The Revolutionary Socialists 
on the other hand proclaim the essential invalidity of all 
private ownership of productive property, and hold that 
revolutionary methods, which have come to be called 
“ Direct Action,” are the only effectual means of securing 
the wished for reforms. The “ General Strike ” is the method 
of “ direct ” action commonly advocated, although others 
besides Socialists sometimes advocate this same method. 

1 CL Pius IX, ib., pp. 49-51. 2 Antoine, loc. cit. 



The “ Syndicalist Socialists ” x of France and the more 
advanced parties in Belgium, Spain, Italy and other con- 
tinental countries, as well as in America and England, are 
of the Revolutionary type. Since 1918 the Revolutionary 
Socialists have grown much stronger in most countries, 
especially in England. The same was true of Italy up to 
the time of the Fascist Revolution. It is also true of the 
industrial cities of Spain, such as Barcelona and Bilbao. 
What their power and prospects are at present (1931) it 
is difficult to determine. 1 2 

Socialism in Ireland. — The Socialist movement has so far 
made little progress in Ireland (owing to its anti-Christian 
character and the strength of the people’s Catholic faith). 
Its doctrines, however, and propaganda have had a wery 
disturbing effect on a considerable section of the labouring 
population. This is especially true in the cities, where the 
material conditions of the poor, resulting from an unchristian 
capitalistic regime of more than two centuries, are amongst 
the worst in Europe. 

Besides, there are no Catholic Trades Unions or Labour 
Associations in Ireland such as now exist in Italy, France, 
Germany, Belgium, Holland and the other countries of 
Continental Europe ; and although nearly all the Irish 
workers (outside some of the North-Eastern counties) are 
Catholic, several of the official labour leaders are non- 
Catholics or non-believers. 

A further element of weakness and danger in the position 
of the labouring population of Ireland is the affiliation of 
some of the Irish Trade Unions to corresponding British 
Unions. The members of the latter are mostly non-Catholic, 

1 Cf. supra, art. i ; also Cronin, op. cit., vol. ii, pp. 160, 161 ; Calh. 
Encyclop., art. “ Syndicalism," p. 385. Also Encyclop. Britt., vol. 32 
(New Volumes), art. “ Syndicalism." 

2 For a brief account of Socialism in America and other countries, cf. 
Cathrein, ib., pp. 67-118 ; also Elder, op. cit.. Second Part, chap. iii. The 
object of the “ Fabian Society of England," founded in 1883 by Sydney 
Webb (now Lord Passfield) and others, was to educate the public, especially 
the municipal bodies and the political parties, in socialist or “ Collectivist ” 
ideas, by means of literature, pamphlets, etc. Of late years, however, 
there has been a reaction against “ Fabianism.” Cf. Calh. Encyclop., 
loc. cit., p. 65 ; also Fabian Tracts (London, 1908). 



and the needs and circumstances of the two countries are 
different. In that way the connection which apparently 
is meant to strengthen both the English and Irish unions is 
in reality a source of confusion and weakness in the Irish 

Again, some of the leaders of the Irish Transport Union, 
of which we shall speak presently, profess to be affiliated 
to the Russian “ Red International ” (the Komintern). 
There are, besides, in Dublin and other centres organisers 
from the British Communist Party, some of whom have 
been trained in Russia ; and even some Dublin young men 
are undergoing a course of Communist training in Moscow 
with a view to Communist activities in Ireland. The present 
state of widespread unemployment and poverty (1931) 
undoubtedly supplies a very favourable occasion for Socialist 
propaganda, which is all the more dangerous owing to the 
want of a Catholic Workers’ Union ; but otherwise the 
movement has little or no appeal for the Irish Catholic 

The I. T. & G. W. U. — In the year 1908 the “ Irish 
Transport and General Workers’ Union ” was founded in 
Dublin by James Connolly and James Larkin. In the great 
Dublin lock-out of 1913 this union sprang into importance ; 
and after the Easter Week rising of 1916, spread rapidly 
over the whole country, gathering into its ranks agricultural 
labourers, carters, and all classes of unskilled workers, men 
and women. It had affiliated to it also some of the skilled 
or professional unions. Up to 1922 it was by far the largest 
and most powerful Union in Ireland, and included some 
150,000 workers. 

The leaders and official personnel of the Irish Socialist 
Party, which was founded a few years later, but soon 
collapsed, seem to have been partially identical with those 
of the Irish Transport Union. How far that party’s aims 
and principles correspond with those of real Socialism, is 
not clear. Their economic gospel seems to be that of James 
Connolly, as far as he had formulated a consistent system. 
In reality, Connolly, well-meaning and able in many ways 
as he was, had not thought out a complete system. The 
circumstances of his death prove that he was not a Socialist. 
His writings manifest no little inconsistencies and confusion 



of thought. The Constitution of the James Connolly 
Workers’ Club of Dublin, an educational and propagandist 
organisation, is definitely Socialistic orCommunistic, although 
many of the members are Catholics. 1 2 

A split occurred in 1923 in the ranks of the Irish Transport 
and General Workers’ Union. Mr. James Larkin seceded 
and formed a new union called the “ Irish Workers’ Union.” 
Besides, most of the rural members fell away. They had 
little sympathy with the revolutionary tendencies of some 
of the leaders, and found besides that the needs of rural 
and urban workers are different and could not be well 
provided for in the same union. Since then the strength 
of the I. T. & G. W. U. has steadily declined. 

Influence of Socialism on Modern Legislation. — Although 
Socialists have not so far succeeded, except in Russia, in 
setting up a permanent socialist state, their influence has 
impressed itself deeply on modern legislation in very many 
countries. The pressure exerted by them on Liberal 
governments has helped to bring about much remedial 
legislation. On the other hand, however, that same influence 
has been largely accountable, in conjunction with Liberalism, 
for several of the worst features of modern legislative ten- 
dencies. Thus, the monopoly of education, now too often 
assumed by the State, and the tendency to share with the 
parents the care of the children, State usurpation of 
authority over the matrimonial contract, the tendency 
towards centralisation of civil authority, and undue inter- 
ference in municipal administration arc all features of the 
socialist regime. 

Art. 4 — Non-Catholic Social Movements and. Socialism' 1 

General Sketch. — Side by side with Socialism two other 
movements (besides the great Catholic Social Reform Move- 
ment of which we shall treat in a later chapter) have grown 

1 CI. Rev. L. McKenna, S. J. — The Teaching of James Connolly. Connolly 
— Labour in Irish History (Dublin, 1917) ; Ryan — The Irish Labour 
Movement (Dublin, 1919). 

2 Cf. Encyclop. Britt., loc. cit. ; Antoine, op. cit., chap. xiv, art. 4 ; 
O’Brien — Labour Organisation (Methuen, London, 1921), chap, i ; Sydney 
and Beatrice Webb —History of Trade Unionism and Industrial Democracy 
(Longmans, London, 1920). 



up since the middle of the 19th century in Europe and 
America. These are Trade Unionism and the Co-operative 
Movement. Both have had their origin in Great Britain. 
Their rise dates practically from 1825, when the oppressive 
statutes, which had up to that time forbidden the com- 
bination of workmen in their own defence were repealed. 
Excepting the Christian religion these movements are the 
most powerful remedial agencies for counteracting the evils 
arising from unchristian Capitalism. As the interrelations 
between these movements and Socialism are now dominant 
considerations in Great Britain, Ireland, and many countries 
of Europe and America, we touch briefly on them here. 

The Trades Unions. — The Trades Unions may at first sight 
seem to be the modern counterpart of the mediaeval guilds. 
In reality, however, there are essential differences between 
the two types of union. The guilds included in their mem- 
bership all classes of persons connected with the particular 
industry to which the guild belonged, employers and 
employees, rich and poor. The trades union, on the other 
hand, is an association of wage-earners alone. Again, the 
guild was organised and directed under strong religious 
influences ; and it concerned itself with all the interests of 
its members, including even their spiritual welfare. The 
primary objects of the trades union, (which in the English- 
speaking countries, including Ireland, and even in some 
non-English speaking and Catholic countries such as Spain, 
are quite secular in character) is to secure from the employers 
by means of collective bargaining just conditions for the 
labourer. There are, however, many great Catholic Trades 
Unions in some of the continental countries, such as France, 
Belgium, and Germany. These approximate more nearly 
to the mediaeval guilds in their organisation and scope. 

Trade Unionism has reached its highest development in 
Britain, the land of its origin. The Association of the 
“ Knights of Labour ” in U.S.A. is, however, the largest 
and most powerful single labour association in the world. 

The Political Labour Parties. As a result of the Trades 
Union movement a political Labour Party came into being 
in Great Britain towards the end of the 19th century, and 
a similar party was formed in the Irish Free State in 1922. 




The Labour Party of Great Britain has become an effective 
force in British politics since 1900. Its influence has in- 
creased immensely since the European War. Its leaders 
have already (1931) twice formed the Government of Great 
Britain, although the party has not so far (1931) secured 
an absolute majority in the House of Commons. The 
political principles of the Labour parties are not clear except 
that its leaders seek reform by constitutional rather than 
revolutionary methods. 1 

The Co-operative Movement. — The Co-operative move- 
ment, which is also of British origin, is one of the outstanding 
and most striking features of modern industrial history. 
It had its first weak beginnings in Rochdale, Lancs., England, 
in 1844, when the operatives of one of the factories began 
to contribute two pence a week to a fund for a co-operative 
store. From Lancashire it spread through Great Britain 
(making some progress also in Ireland) and the British 
Dominions. It has now penetrated into practically every 
country inhabited by Europeans. At present the number of 
people directly or indirectly involved in the movement would 
amount to close upon 200,000,000 (two hundred millions) — 
including over 6,000,000 (six millions) in Great Britain 
itself. Of the 1,364 co-operative societies which existed in 
Great Britain in 1929, ninety-nine were for co-operative 
production. The total capital of the British Co-operative 
Societies was then £205, 131, 379. 2 

The Co-operative Agricultural movement in Ireland, which 
in 1915 seemed prosperous and progressive, including 981 
affiliated societies and 225 co-operative banks, has now 
only 305 affiliated societies, several of which are not pros- 
perous, and practically no banks. The partial failure of 
the movement has been due partly to the tactics of the 
British army of occupation, which destroyed great numbers 
of the creameries (1919-21) ; partly to the fact that the 
Irish co-operative movement was too confined in its scope. 

1 Cf. Cath. Encyclop., loo. cit. 

* Cf . The People’s Year Book (1931), published by The Co-operative 
Wholesale Society, x Balloon Street, Manchester, p. 20. The standard 
work on the modern co-operative movement is by Beatrice Potter (Webb), 
and is entitled The Co-operative Movement in Great Britain (Longmans, 



The movement was also handicapped from the beginning 
by another circumstance : it was promoted, and to a large 
extent directed, by members of the Protestant ascendancy 
and Scottish or English officials, and so never won the 
confidence of the people at large. Such an organisation in 
order to be permanently successful must be organised and 
conducted in harmony with the Catholic and native 
traditions of the people . 1 

Relations with Socialism. — The attitude which Socialism 
ought to adopt towards the Trades Unions and the Co- 
operative movement has been a constant subject of dis- 
cussion and dispute among the socialist leaders. Those of 
the revolutionary type tend strongly to discountenance 
them, except in as far as they may be useful instruments 
for revolutionary propaganda and organisation. Socialists 
of the Revisionist and Parliamentary type, on the other 
hand, regard Trade Unionism and the Co-operative move- 
ment with favour . 2 

In every country both the Trade Unions and the Co- 
operative societies are in constant danger of being captured 
and dominated by the socialists. This is especially the 
case since the Great War. Thus, in Britain before 1914 
Socialism had made comparatively little progress. 3 Since 
1918, however, the Trade Unions have become deeply im- 
pregnated with Marxian principles, and the British Labour 
Party seems to be, or at least to have been at one time, 
affiliated in some way or other to the “ International,” 
which now has its centre of energy in Soviet Russia. 

Art. 5 — Critique of Socialism 

Socialism. — Socialism, no less than Liberalism, bears the 
stamp of irreligion, materialism, and active antagonism to 
Christianity. Indeed, these traits appear if anything more 
aggressive in Socialism as exemplified under the Russian 
Soviet regime. It is well known, too, that the Judaeo- 
Masonic forces and the unchristian financial magnates favour 

1 For the best account of the movement in Ireland, cf. Smith-Gordon — 
Irish Rural Reconstruction. See also infra, chap, xxi, art. 5. 

2 Cf. Cathrein, op. cit., pp. 74 ff, 85 ff, 92, 104. 

s Cf. Elder, op. cit., pp. 198-202. 



Socialism as much, or almost as much, as they favour 
Liberalism . 1 

Many of Its Aims Commendable. — On the other hand, it 
is true that several of the aims professed by socialists, 
especially by those of the constitutional or “ Revisionist ” 
type, are lawful and excellent in themselves if detached 
from the general socialist system of which they are made 
to form a part. So true indeed is this that Pius XI does 
not hesitate to say : 

“ It would seem as if Socialism . . . were drifting towards the 
truth which Christian tradition has always held in respect ; for 
it cannot be denied that its programmes often strikingly approach 
the just demands of Christian social reformers.” 

The Pope then refers to the remarkable toning down so 
evident in recent years in the tenets and demands of many 
socialist leaders, even in regard to the central principles of 
Socialism, such as those concerning class-war and private 
ownership ; and he adds : 

“ If these changes continue, it may well come about that 
gradually the tenets of mitigated Socialism will no longef be 
different from the programme of those who seek to reform human 
society according to Christian principles .” 2 
Thus it is essential in the interests of the public good that 
the excessive power of over-wealthy capitalists should be 
kept in check ; that unjust monopolies and “ trusts ” be 
prevented ; and that the control of currency and credit as 
now T exercised by irresponsible banking and financial 
syndicates be radically reformed. The power of holding, 
up the national resources which the capitalist proprietors 
now possess should be put an end to or counteracted by 
prudent legislation. Further, it should be regarded as a 
primary duty of the civil government to secure, as far 
as the natural resources of the nation will allow, that 
everyone has a fair opportunity in his own country of 
earning by his labour a suitable livelihood, including food, 
clothing and housing for himself and his family. 

It may be desirable, too, that public utilities such as 

1 Cahill, op. cit., pp. 169, 170 ; also Revue Internationale des Socieies 
Secretes (weekly review published at 8 Avenue Portales, Paris), passim. 

2 Quadragesimo Anno (C. T. S. edit.), pp. 50, 51. 



railways and mines, the great electric plants, the waterways 
and water power should be at least partially controlled by 
some public authority for the service of the community ; 1 
and that the “ unearned increment ” on the value of such 
property as urban building sites should belong at least in 
great part to the municipality. Reforms such as these, if 
carried out in the spirit of Christian teaching, would go 
far to eliminate the conditions that give Socialism its 
driving force. 

But Its Basic Philosophy False and Irreconcilable with 
Christianity. — But although Socialists put forward many 
claims which are quite in harmony with the Christian law. 
Socialism as a whole is so fundamentally opposed to the 
teachings of Christianity that the two cannot be reconciled. 

“ Socialism,” writes Pius XI, “ whether it be considered as 
a doctrine, or as an historical fact, or as a movement, cannot, if 
it really remain Socialism, be brought into harmony with the 
dogmas of the Catholic Church . . . the reason being that it 
conceives human society in a way utterly alien to Christian 
truth. . . . Hence, ‘ Religious Socialism,’ ‘ Christian Socialism,’ 
are expressions implying a contradiction in terms. No one can 
be at the same time a sincere Christian and a true Socialist .” 2 

The fundamental opposition between Socialism and 
Christianity is a necessary consequence of the materialistic 
philosophy upon which Socialism rests. In this philosophy 
the authority and even the existence of a personal God are 
denied or ignored ; the immortality of the human soul, free- 
will and human responsibility are eliminated. Thus the 
foundations of the moral law completely disappear. 

Ideals Purely Materialistic and also Unattainable. — Even 
if we leave out of consideration the abstract philosophy 
on which Socialism is based and consider its direct teachings 
alone, it is still impossible to reconcile it with Christianity. 
In the first place Socialism, ignoring a future life, centres 

1 Cf. Code of Social Principles (C. S. Guild, Oxford, 1929), n. 132. 

2 76., pp. 53, 54. Cf. also Leo XIII — Quod. Apostolici Muneris, 1878, 
pp. 12 ff ; Rerum Novarum, 1891, pp. 134 ff ; Graves de Communi, 1902, 
p. 167 ; also Pius X, in his Apostolic Letter to the Bishops of Italy on 
Catholic Social Action (Cf. Ryan and Husslein — Church and Slate (Harding 
and Hore, London, 1920), pp. no If). 


all of man’s happiness and good in material well-being, to 
which every other duty and interest are subordinated. 
Hence socialists assume that the sole and ultimate purpose 
of human society is the material advantages which it brings 
to the members. Besides, they profess to aim at a state 
of material prosperity free from suffering, poverty, and 
irksome labour, and in which all enjoy social equality. 

Now it is a fundamental principle in Christian teaching 
that temporal happiness, although a legitimate object of 
human endeavour, can never have more than a secondary 
place in men’s aims. The temporal prosperity which is 
the end of Civil Society must be subordinated to man’s 
ultimate end. For man’s supernatural interests are always 
paramount, and being eternal must dominate his every 
action and desire. The degree of reward and punishment, 
of happiness and suffering, that is each person’s due is not 
to be measured by this life alone. The even-handed justice, 
tempered with mercy, which the Christian confidently 
expects as an essential element in the moral order of the 
universe is not and cannot be realised unless man’s complete 
life, of which his earthly career is only a preparatory phase, 
be taken into account. 

Hence those who hold up before the people, as socialists 
do, visions of an earthly paradise free from suffering, 
poverty and irksome labour only delude men by promises 
which cannot be fulfilled. Labour (the punishment of our 
first parents’ fall) and “ the other pains and hardships of 
life will . . . accompany man as long as life lasts .” 1 

False Interpretation of Human Equality.— Again, the 
doctrine that all have a right to social equality and that 
class distinctions are always based on tyranny and 
oppression, implies a false interpretation of the natural law 
and of Christian teaching. Justice and Charity, and the 
spirit of human brotherhood are indeed imposed as obligatory 
by the natural law, and are strongly inculcated in the teach- 
ing of Christianity as fundamental duties ; for all men have 
immortal souls ; all have free-will and personal responsi- 
bility ; all are the beloved children of God, made to God’s 
own image and likeness ; redeemed by the sufferings of 

1 Rerum Novarum, 1891, p. 142 ; also Pius XI, ib., pp. 53, 54. 



His Divine Son, and created for supernatural union with 
God for ever in Heaven. But human society cannot function 
without lawful authority, which therefore has its sanction 
in divine law. This implies as a necessary correlative the 
duty of reverence towards lawful superiors and of obedience 
to just rule. 

Moreover, inequality in social rank, inequality of oppor- 
tunity and of material well-being, are necessary results of 
men’s varying abilities and character, coupled with their 
right to acquire property and to utilise their various natural 
gifts each in liis own way . 1 

False Doctrine of Class War. — Seeing that class distinction 
has been designed by the Author of nature as a necessary 
part of the social organism, and may exist without injustice 
or oppression of any kind , 2 it follows that the rising of one 
class against another could be justified or tolerated only as 
a very exceptional expedient against injustice or oppression. 
Hence class-war if ever justifiable cannot be lawfully under- 
taken as a means to do away with all class distinctions ; 
much less can such a war be described as socialists describe 
it, as a normal feature of human society. 

Unjust Prohibition of Private Property. — In denying men’s 
natural right to acquire and hold productive property, 
socialists infringe on an inalienable human right, and would 
destroy the individual’s personal independence and his 
responsibility for his own future well-being. They would 
thus do away with rights which are essential to human 
dignity and personality, and would erect the State into a 
position of unnatural pre-eminence and power, as if it were 
prior to the individuals that comprise it . 3 

Besides in withholding from men the power of becoming 

1 Cf. Leo XIII — Quod. Apostolici Muneris, 1878, pp. 16, 17; Immortale 
Dei, 1885, pp. 46, 47 ; Rerum Novarum, 1891, p. 141 ; Sapientice Christiana;, 
1890, p. no. See also infra, chap, xvi, art. 2. 

2 Cf. Leo XIII, lb., also infra, chap, xxi, art. 1. 

3 Cf. Leo XIII — Rerum Novarum, pp. 138 ft Cf. also the words of 
Pius XI : “ They [the socialists] affirm that the loss of human dignity, 
which results from socialized methods of production, would be easily com- 
pensated for by the abundance of goods produced in common, and accruing 
to the individual, who can turn them at his will to the comforts arid 
culture of life,” lb., p. 54. 



independent by their own labour and raising their families 
in the social ladder, they would deprive them of a stimulus 
to labour, initiative and inventiveness which is most useful, 
if not indeed essential to the well-being of society. 

Dismemberment of the Family. — In its attitude towards 
the family and the permanence of the marriage tie Socialism 
is also fundamentally opposed to the natural law and to 
Christian teaching . 1 The socialist State in withholding 
from its citizens their right to acquire productive property 
and assuming full responsibility for the maintenance of all 
its members undertakes the duties and usurps the right of 
the father of the family ; and at the same time strikes at 
the root of the doctrine of the essential permanence of the 
marriage tie. It even founds a claim, which would inevitably 
(though perhaps only gradually) he enforced, of interfering 
with the innermost and most sacred family relations. 
Besides, in denying the natural subordination of wife to 
husband in the details of domestic life Socialism destroys 
the notion of permanent society . 2 

Elimination of Religion from Social System. — Finally, in 
the socialist system there is no place for the Church. 
Socialists are at one with Liberals in denying the Church’s 
authority and her independent place in human society. 
They undertake, too, to find a remedy for social evils, with- 
out any aid from religion. In all this they are opposed to 
the Divine ordinance by which the Church is set up as a 
perfect society independent of the State, and is made the 
authoritative exponent of the fundamental laws that govern 
the social as well as the individual life of man. 

Again, in seeking to bring about human prosperity and 
peace independently of the help of religion, they disobey 
the Divine precept, “ Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and 

1 Leo XIII— 76 . 

2 Cf. 76 . — Quod Aposiolici Muneris, 1878, pp. 17, 18 ; Cathrein, op. cit., 
chap, iv, sec. vi, pp. 340—351. (Here the author shows that the ideals and 
principles of Socialism as described by its authentic exponents are funda- 
mentally opposed to the natural constitution of the family which is up- 
held and insisted on by the laws of Christianity). Cf. also Cronin, loc. cit. 
These socialistic principles regarding the family, are now actually put in 
fgree in Soviet Russia, 



His justice and all these things shall be added unto you .” 1 
Religious motives alone can effectually curb human passions, 
and thus secure a reign of social justice. Religion, and it 
alone, can make men courageous and happy under pressure 
of the ills in which human life will always abound . 2 

Historical Antagonism to Christianity. — Considered apart 
from its teachings and viewed as a phase of human history 
Socialism has always been profoundly hostile to Christianity. 
Socialist teaching has its roots in the Protestant revolt of 
the sixteenth century and the Liberalism of the following 
centuries, which was the consummation of that revolt . 3 
The protagonists and leaders of the socialist movement have 
always been closely associated with the anti-Christian secret 
societies of which the Roman Pontiffs one after another, 
since the beginning of the eighteenth century, have issued 
the most severe and uncompromising condemnations . 4 

Hence in Catholic countries such as Italy, Spain, and 
France the socialist organisations have always been aggres- 
sively anti-Christian in practice as well as in profession. 
And if here and there the socialists of the rank and file 
show a tendency to revolt against the Jews and Freemasons, 
who utilise the socialist movement in their war against 

1 Matth. vi. 32, 33. 

2 Cf. Leo XIII — Exeunt iam anno, 1888, pp. 98 ff ; Rerum Novarum, 
1891, pp. 141, 144, 147-150. 

2 Cf. Leo XIII — Quod Apostolici Muneris, 1878, pp. 13. 14. 

1 76 ., p. 12. Cf. also Humanum Genus (1884) (Sec The Great Encyclicals 
of Leo XIII. Bcnzigcr, New York, 1913, p. 99). See also Cahill, op. cit., 
in Index under words “ Socialism and F For a very useful account 

of the role played in Revolutionary Socialism by the Jewish leaders, 
cf. L. Fry — Le Retour des Flots Vers L’Orient, published as a serial in the 
Rev. Intern, des Soc. Sec., 1931, Nos. 23 and fi. (See especially chaps, iv. 
and v in Nos. 30 and 31). To those who have not studied Freemasonry 
it may seem strange (to some indeed it will appear almost incredible) that 
Freemasonry is closely identified not only with unchristian Liberalism 
and Capitalism — a fact which is generally recognised — but also with 
Socialism even in its most revolutionary and subversive aspects. The 
fact, however, is certain. Cf. Poncins — Secret Powers Behind the Revolution 
(Boswell, London, 1929), p. 35; also pp. 100 If, 127 ff, etc.; also Cahill, 
op. cit., pp. 169, 170. The real explanation of the seeming anomaly seems 
to be that the real aim of Freemasonry in which the Jewish element is 
the inspiring and driving force (cf. Cahill, op. cit., chap, iv, and Poncins, 
passim) is to change the present civilization, which is essentially Christian, 
and set up in its place a Masonic system based upon naturalism or atheistic 
rationalism. Socialism, Communism, Liberalism and Capitalism can all 
be utilised for this end. Besides financiers can control Communist states 
even jnore effectually than states jn which private property prevails. 



Christianity, the motives of such an apparent disagreement 
is not the anti-Christian nature of Freemasonry, but the 
predominance of capitalist interests among the Judmo- 
Masonic leaders. 

In the non-Catholic countries, too — in Germany, Holland, 
Denmark, Britain, and the United States of America, not 
to speak of Soviet Russia — organised Socialism makes no 
secret of its inherent antagonism to Christianity. And even 
where such opposition is deprecated by socialist leaders, 
it appears plainly enough in the socialist programme and 
projects of legislation. 

The German founders of Socialism — Marx, Engels and 
Lasalle — were notoriously anti-Christian. So, too, have 
been their successors — Bebel, Liebknecht, Kautsky, Dietgen, 
Bernstein and Singer. The same is true of the French, 
Belgian and Dutch socialist leaders — Lafargue, Jaures, 
Viviani, Sorel, Briand, Vandervelde, and Herriot, as well 
as those of Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Russia. This 
anti-Christian spirit, which is inherent in Socialism, has 
been clearly shown in the revolution of the Paris Commune 
(1871), in the Barcelona riots (1909), in the Bolshevist regime 
in Russia, in the Bolshevist risings in Hungary and 
Munich, 1 and in the recent Communist excesses in Spain 

Even in the English-speaking countries, where Socialism, 
like Anglo-American Freemasonry, is perhaps not so openly 
aggressive, “ a very slight acquaintance with the leading 
personalities of the socialist movement and with the habits 
of thought current among them, is sufficient to dispel the 
illusion ” 2 that they are not equally anti-Christian. The 
great protagonists of the British Socialist movement, such 
as Aveling, Bax, Blatchford, Hyndman, Leatham, Morris ; 
the English Fabians such as Bernard Shaw and Pease ; 
the Independent Socialists, like Wells, are all more or less 
anti-Christian and naturalistic in outlook and tendency. 
The English political leaders, too, who profess the socia’ist 
creed, however strongly they may proclaim that their 
Socialism is “ only Christianity in terms of modern 

*Cf. Cath. Encycl. , loc. cit. ; also Elder, op. cit., pp. 301-315 (a list of 
Socialist writings) and passim ; Cathrein, op. cit., pp. 103— 120, 

2 Cath. Encycl., vol. xjv, p. 67. 



economics,” are ready to advocate or support measures 
which are anti-Christian at least in principle and tendency. 
This is still more true of the contemporary socialist writers 
and leaders of the United States of America, such as Abbot, 
Brown, Hilquit and Kerr. 

Economic as well as Political Principles Unsound. — 

Apart from the philosophical errors of Socialism and its 
anti-christian character, its economic principles and con- 
clusions are unsound and little calculated to promote the 
peace and prosperity which form the objects of civil society. 
Marx’s fundamental error in assuming that labour is the 
sole foundation of value and that the wage system is con- 
sequently always unjust, has been already referred to . 1 

The statement that private ownership of productive 
property leads inevitably to the concentration of all in- 
dustries in the hands of a few and the consequent pauperisa- 
tion of the masses is exaggerated and misleading. It is 
notoriously untrue of agriculture in which small and 
medium-sized farms are in normal circumstances the most 
secure and stable. Even in the case of manufacturing 
industry carried on principally by machinery, although 
there has been, on the whole, a strong tendency towards 
concentration during the past two centuries, the direction 
of the current is not altogether invariable ; and it is im- 
possible to show that the excessive concentration which has 
occurred is normal or a necessary consequence of private 
ownership, and not rather the result of the abuses already 
referred to in connection with modern capitalism . 2 

The remedy for the social misery connected with owner- 
ship or absence of ownership lies in correcting the abuses 
and not in attempting to abolish a right which is founded 
upon man’s nature. The system in which private owner- 
ship is excluded is opposed to man’s needs and his funda- 
mental instincts. Such a system would take away the 
motives founded upon personal interest and the desire of 

1 Cf. Supra, art. 4. 

2 Marx’s " law ” of the inevitable and ever-increasing pauperisation of 
the masses can be proved by statistics to be a fiction. In fact, during the 
past forty years and at least up to the aftermath of the war, the conditions 
of the working classes showed on the whole a decided improvement upon 
the earlier part of the nineteenth century. Cf . Cathrein, op. cit., pp. 1 50 If ; 
also Cronin, op. cit., pp. 201 ff. 


family advancement, which form at present the most 
powerful incentive to energy, resourcefulness, and invention ; 
and would lead besides to confusion, limitless corruption, 
idleness, and malingering. “ Society as the Socialists con- 
ceive it,” writes Pius XI, “ is impossible and unthinkable 
without the use of compulsion of the most excessive kind.” 1 
The truth of these words of the Holy Father is exemplified 
in the present socialistic regime in Soviet Russia. 

Above all, the socialist State would inevitably develop 
a bureaucratic tyranny as bad as, or worse than, the tyranny 
of the capitalist state. The individual and the family, 
devoid of private capital, and permanent means of sub- 
sistence, which form the real foundation of individual in- 
dependence, would he completely at the mercy of the ad- 
ministration . 2 At best the minority in such a State would 
be at the mercy of the majority. Even in the doubtful 
hypothesis that the workers’ material condition would be 
improved, their status would accord little with the Christian 
ideal of personal dignity which implies responsibility and 
freedom, and would be more akin to the status of the com- 
fortable and well-fed slave or lower animal. 

1 n., p- 54- 

! Cf. Quadrcigesimo Anno, 1931 (C. T. S. edition), pp. 53, 54. 



Art. 1 — Historical Sketch 

General View. — The Russian Revolution of 1917, cul- 
minating in the establishment for the first time of a per- 
manent socialist State for a third part of the whole 
population of Europe, seems destined to rank side by side 
with the Jacobin Revolution of 1793 among the most far- 
reaching political events of modern times. The abuses and 
oppression of the Tsarist regime against which Bolshevism 

1 Cf. Cath. Encyclop. (Supplement, 1922), arts. “ Russia,” “ Bolshevism,” 
*' Soviet.” Encyclop. Britt, (edit. 1929), arts. “ Russia,” " Soviet System,” 
and ” Bolshevism.” G. Gautherot — Le Monde Communiste (“ Edition 
Spes,” Paris, 1925), and Lx Communisme a VEcole (Paris, 1929). Gautherot, 
Professor of the History of the Revolution in the Institut Catholique de 
Paris, is recognised as one of the best living authorities on the modern 
anti-Christian movement. His books are fully documented, mainly from 
Communistic sources, including the Izvestia (official organ of the Soviet 
Government) and the Pravda (official organ of the Communist Party). 
They are among the best summaries hitherto published on present day 
communism. Also La Vague Rouge, a monthly review, edited by Gautherot, 
and pu blished at 134 Boulevard Haussmann, Paris (VIII e ). (The matter 
it contains is borrowed principally from the documentation collected by 
the Entente Internationale first convoked at Paris in June, 1924, and in- 
cluding representatives of 26 nations. The objects of the Entente Inter- 
nationale are “ to defend against the subversive organisations of the Third 
International (of Moscow) the principles of social order, private ownership, 
domestic life and patriotism"). Vicomte Leon de Poncins — Ixs Forces 
Secretes de la Revolution (2nd edit., Paris, 1929). An English version of 
the First Edition, entitled The Secret Power Behind the Revolution, was 
published in 1929 (Boswell, Essex St., London). Nesta Webster — The 
Socialist Network (London, 1926) ; also World Revolution (London, 1922, 
chap, x), and Secret Societies and Subversive Movements (London, 1924) ; 
L. Fry, op. cit., chaps, iv and v ; Batsell — Soviet Rule in Russia (New York, 
1929), edited under the auspices of the Committee of International 
Research of the University of Harvard. Official Report of the British 
Trade Union Delegation to Russia, 1924, published by the Trades Union 
Congress General Council, 32 Eccleston Square, London, S.W.I. This 
report, while professing to be impartial, manifestly aims at defending 
Bolshevism. Maxin Litvinoff — The Bolshevist Revolution, published by 
the British Socialist Party (London, 1919). The Land Revolution in 
Russia (Socialist Labour Press, Glasgow) ; Bukarin — The Programme of 
the World Revolution (Socialist Labour Press, Glasgow) ; Postgate — The 
Bolshevist Theory (London, 1920). The writer is sympathetic towards 
Communism. The Appendices contain reprints of : (a) The New Com- 
munist Manifesto, issued by the Congress of the Third International, held 




is mainly a reaction, were far worse than the abuses 
associated with the monarchist regime in France, and the 
reaction has been even greater and more violent . 1 As a 
result of the setting up of the Soviet Government in Russia 
the extreme socialist party all over the world have now a 
more or less unified organisation with a visible centre of 
direction in Moscow ; so that a world movement of which 
no one can foresee the issue has taken definite shape. 

The Russian revolution, though fundamentally of the 
same character and tendency as the French, differed from 
the latter mainly in its economic doctrines, which are those 
of Marxian Socialism. Besides, the anti-Christian and anti- 
religious virus which Bolshevism exhibits is even more 
pronounced and extreme than that of the French Jacobins. 

at Moscow, March, 1919 ; ( b ) Lenin's Nineteen Theses, which were pre- 
sented to the same Congress, and (c) The Appeal to the U.S.A. Industrial 
Workers of the World (I.W.W.) issued (January, 1920), by the Central 
Executive Council of the Third (Moscow) International, over the name 
of Zinoviev, the President of the assembly. J. Douillet — Moscow Un- 
masked. A Record of Nine Years’ Work and Observation in Soviet Russia 
(The Pilot Press, London, 1930). (Mons. Douillet has lived in Russia for 
35 years since 1891, first as Belgian Consul, and after the Revolution, as 
member of the mission of the Supreme Commissioner of the League of 
Nations ; as Assistant Director of the Catholic Mission in Rostov-on-Don, 
etc. The English translation of the book has been made by A. W. King). 
Walsh, S. J . — The Fall of the Russian Empire (Blue Ribbon Books, New 
York, 7th edit., 1928). (Fr. Walsh was one of the principal members of 
the Papal Relief Commission in Russia, 1922-23). McCullagh — Red Russia, 
also Bolshevik Persecution of Christianity (1924). Mgr. D'Herbigny, S.J. — 
Le Front A nti- Religieuse en Russie Sovietique and La Guerre Anti-Religieuse 
en Russie Sovietique (“ Edition Spes,” 1930, Paris). (Mgr. D’Herbigny is 
head of the Pontifical Russian Institute in Rome, and one of the best 
living authorities on the Soviet regime in its relation to the Church. The 
booklets are amply documented mostly from Soviet official sources). 
Notes Quesdam de Perseculione Religiosa in Russia (Rome, 1930). This 
is a Latin brochure, which has been compiled by a number of Roman 
ecclesiastics, belonging to several different nationalities, who are attached 
to the Russian Pontifical Institute in Rome, and who by order of the 
Pope have made a systematic study for which they are specially equipped 
of the whole Russian question. The Soviet official documents, the Russian 
Press, the official Reports of the Catholic missionaries, etc., supply ample 
material for such a study. The brochure is fully documented. S. P. 
Melgounov — La Terreur Rouge en Russie (1918-1924), translated from the 
original Russian by W. Lerat (Payot, 106 Boulevard St. Germain, Paris, 
1927). This book is made up almost entirely of extracts from official 
Soviet documents, and is justly regarded as one of the most important 
collections of contemporary documents on the period which it embraces 
(1918-24). There is also an English translation. It contains perhaps 
the most terrible indictment yet published of the Soviet Regime. 

1 Cf. Walsh, op. cit., chaps, i-iv. 


In his great Encyclical on the Social Order Pius XI refers 
to Bolshevism in the following passage : 

“ Communism teaches and pursues a two-fold aim : merciless 
class-warfare, and complete abolition of private ownership ; and 
this it does not in secret and by hidden methods, but openly, 
frankly, and by every means, even the most violent. To obtain 
these ends communists shrink from nothing and fear nothing ; 
and when they have attained to power, it is unbelievable, indeed 
it seems portentous, how cruel and inhuman they show them- 
selves to be. Evidence for this is the ghastly destruction and 
ruin with which they have laid waste immense tracts of Eastern 
Europe and Asia ; while their antagonism and open hostility to 
Holy Church and to God Himself are, alas, but too well known 
and proved by their deeds. We do not think it necessary to 
warn upright and faithful children of the Church against the 
impious and nefarious character of Communism.” 1 

Genesis of Bolshevism. — The term Bolshevist is derived 
from the Russian word Bolshinistvo, which means “ majority.” 
Ever since 1898 there had existed in Russia a Socialist 
organisation called the Social-democratic Party, aiming at 
the substitution of a republic for the monarchical govern- 
ment and the reorganisation of the economic and social 
life of the country on a socialistic basis. At the second 
congress of this party, which was held in London (July, 
1903), a number of delegates (who formed the majority and 
were consequently called the Bolsheviki in contradistinction 
to the Mensheviki or Minority party) definitely determined 
upon an effort to overthrow by armed rebellion the Imperial 
Government of the Tsar. Thenceforward the Bolsheviki 
and the Mensheviki formed two distinct revolutionary 
parties, of which the former was the more advanced. 

In the year 1905, after the Russian debacle in the Russo- 
Japanese War, the Bolsheviki, under the direction of the 
Jew, Bronstein (alias Trotsky), and other aliens, made their 
first abortive attempt to establish a revolutionary Govern- 
ment in Petrograd. The failure of the attempt resulted in 
the Bolshevik leaders being expelled and their organisation 
driven underground. After 1905, while the Mensheviki 
continued their socialistic propaganda openly, hoping to 
attain their ends through the medium of the newly estab- 
lished Parliament or Duma, the Bolsheviki, who repudiated 

‘ Quadragesimo Anno (C. T. S. edit.), pp. 49, 50. 



all constitutional means, continued their secret preparations 
for a revolution. 1 Their principal leaders were Jews. 2 
They were in league with the Masonic secret societies, and 
are said to have been financed with Jewish money. 3 
Working in secret among the industrial masses, they 
preached hatred against the capitalist regime, against the 
monarchy which supported it, against the propertied classes, 
and even against the moderate Socialist Party as traitors 
to the people’s cause. 4 

The Great European War precipitated the crisis. The 
misery and disorganisation of the people, the crushing 
military disasters, and the centralisation of political power 
produced by the war supplied a favourable opportunity for 
a band of revolutionary adventurers to gain possession of 
the govermental machine. In March, 1917, the monarchy 
was overthrown by the popular party, under the leadership 
of the Jew, Kerensky, 5 who took possession of one of the 
royal palaces. But some eight months later (October, 1917), 
the Bolsheviki, who were only a small minority, but were 
aided by Jewish finance, overthrew by a cozip d’etat 
Kerensky’s administration and seized the reins of govern- 
ment. 6 

The different states and provinces of the former Russian 
Empire (over thirty in number, including a few new states), 
with a total population of nearly one hundred and fifty 
millions, now form a kind of federal union of socialist states 
which is called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 
(U.S.S.R.). The different states of the union enjoy at least 

1 Cf. Walsh — op. cit., chaps, iii-iv ; Encycl. Britt., loc. cit. 

2 Cf. Fry, op. cit., chap. v. Jewish organs, such as The Maccabees (New 
York), claimed as early as 1905 that the Russian Revolution was the 
work of the Jews. 

3 Cf. De Poncins, op. cit., pp. 160 S ; also The Jews Who’s Who (pub- 
lished by The “ Britons,” 62 Oxford St., London, W.I., 1921) ; also Fry, 

op. cit., chap. v. 

1 Gautherot — Le Monde Communiste, p. 23. 

6 Kerensky’s revolution was supported by the British Government of 
the time. For the Tsar had determined, owing to the military disasters, 
to withdraw from the European War. Kerensky himself is said to have 
been a Jew, a Socialist, and a Freemason of the 32nd degree of the Ancient 
Scottish Rite. (Cf. The Light, an American Masonic Journal, Sept. 15th, 

“ Gautherot, op. cit., pp. 2r-24 ; Walsh, op. cit., chaps, xiii-xvi (for a 
detailed and graphic account of the revolution). N. Webster — The Socialist 
Network, pp- 40—43. Encycl. Britt., loc. cit. 


nominally, varying degrees of autonomy ; but are all under 
the supreme control of the All Russian Central Executive 

The Term Communism. — Since their accession to power 
the Bolsheviki have been commonly referred to as Com- 
munists, and have themselves accepted the name . 1 Com- 
munism understood in the sense of Bolshevism differs in 
two special characteristics from ordinary Socialism. The 
Communists aim at establishing State Socialism by violence 
and terrorism rather than by constitutional means ; and 
the ideal State which they have organised in Russia and 
propose to set up elsewhere is not a democracy, but a 
dictatorship — the dictatorship, namely, of the class of un- 
propertied workers whom they term the Proletariat. This 
means in practice the dictatorship of the Communist party, 
or of the Communist leaders . 2 

Since the Russian revolution the division between the 
parliamentary or democratic socialists and those of the 
revolutionary type, now commonly called Communists, has 
become more clearly marked than before. 

The Soviets. — The term soviet is a Russian word which 
means council. At the time of the first Bolshevik outbreak 
in 1905, the leaders organised local soviets or revolutionary 
councils of industrial workers, which were to send repre- 
sentatives to a central soviet in Petrograd. This central 
soviet was to control the whole revolutionary movement. 
These organisations, which collapsed after the outbreak of 
1905, were again formed in 1917 on a more comprehensive 
system ; and soviets of the deputies of soldiers and peasants 
were added to those of the industrial workers. 

According to the Soviet system, which was formally 
adopted at the Fifth All-Russian Congress of Soviets in 
July, 1918, the highest legislative and administrative 
authority of the State is the All-Russian Congress of Soviets. 
It is composed of representatives of the local, urban and 
provincial soviets. Bet as it does not meet oftener than 
twice a year, the real governing power, both legislative and 

1 Cf. The New Communist Manifesto (Postgate, op. cit., p. l '/(>}■ 

2 Cf. Official Report of the British Trades Union Delegates, pp. 2, 3. 
Gautherot, op. cit., pp. 11-18, 29-31. Postgate, op. cit., chap, iv ; also 
New Communist Manifesto, ih., pp. 193-198. 




executive, vests in the All-Russian Central Executive Com- 
mittee and the Council of the People’s Commissaries A The 
personnel of both these bodies is in a large part identical, 
and both are dominated by the Communist party . 2 

Violent and Oppressive Methods of the Bolshevists. — How 
far the violence and massacres that marked the early stages 
of the Russian revolution (which in this regard presents a 
striking contrast to the revolution in Italy), and the de- 
structive famines and pestilence that almost decimated the 
unhappy people are to be attributed to the Bolsheviks it is 
difficult to decide. It is certain, however, even from their 
own official statements, that the Communist leaders have 
established their dictatorship by the most ruthless methods , 3 
and their regime is still marked by terrorism and repression , 4 
Executions, imprisonments, and transportations still go 
on on a very large scale . 6 

1 76., Cath. Encycl. (Supplement, 1922), pp. 701, 702. 

* Gautherot — Ib., pp. 27, 28. 

3 Cf. Postgate, op. cit., chaps, iv and v ; also New Communist Manifesto 
(ib., pp. 175 ff), and Theses of N. Lenin, pp. 201 ff. 

1 Gautherot, ib., pp. 32—36 ; also ib. — Le Communisme Contre les Paysans 
(published 134 Boulevard Haussmann, Paris, 1931), passim. 

5 In the year 1927, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the first 
organisation of the “ Ce-Ka," or Soviet Secret Police (now called the Ogpu), 
a Soviet official list was published of the victims whom they put to death. 
The list includes only those for whose death the “Ce-Ka” formally accepted 
responsibility. The total number given in this official paper is as follows : 
1917 (Dec.) to 1921 (Sept.) : 

Priests . . 

Students (i.e., " Inlellectuales ' 
" Intelligensia ”) 





• • 365,250 

1 . 649,749 


Soldiers and Army Officers 



(Sept, to Dec.) 

. . 260,000 

- • 192,350 
■■ 8 i 5 , 35 i 



(Jan. to Dec.) 









3, OOO 



Total number of victims officially acknowledged 1,744,674 
These numbers do not include those victims who were murdered or got 
rid of surreptitiously. These, according to the best informed authorities, 
would amount to over a million more. Hence the actual total of victims 
put to death in Russia by the Ogpu during the ten years 1917 to 1927 
may be safely put down at least 3,000,000 ! ! (cf. Nolo Qutedam, p. 14) ; 
cf. also De Poncins, loc. cit. 


Compared with the Protestant Persecutions in Ireland. — 

Their methods bear a striking resemblance to the methods 
adopted in the 17th and 18th centuries by the English 
Protestant party in Ireland to break up the old Irish 
Catholic civilisation, but are even more ruthless and cruel. 
The expropriations and confiscations, the disfranchisement 
of the opponents of Communism, the destruction of Christian 
institutions, including the monasteries and seminaries for 
the training of priests, the complete suppression of the 
existing educational organisation, accompanied by a strictly 
enforced ban upon all education that is not Communistic, 
the massacre, banishment or impoverishment of the educated 
classes — all these measures are in the main a repetition of 
the means which were adopted by the English colonial 
planters in Ireland for the complete conquest of the country 
and the break up of its existing Catholic Irish organisation. 

The aims of the Bolshevists, however, are more radical 
and unnatural. They definitely reject and wish to destroy 
all religion ; and they propagate principles directly opposed 
to Christian morality. Furthermore, they compel all the 
children of the nation to attend their schools in which these 
irreligious and immoral principles are inculcated. 

Art. 2 — Communist International Activities 1 

Revolutionary Attempts in Hungary and Germany. — In 

March, 1919, a socialist government was set up in Hungary 
under Bela Kun and other Jewish leaders, but it lasted only 
a few months. 2 The Socialist revolutionary party failed, 
at least for the time being, in Germany 3 and Austria. The 
movement was foiled in Holland mainly owing to the well 
organised resistance of the Catholic forces. In Italy the 
progress of the socialist forces has been definitely checked 
under the new Fascist and Catholic reactions. 

1 Cf. On this subject an article in the Irish Rosary, Sept., 1931, by 
G. M. Godden, pp. 677-684. 

2 Cf. Cath. Eneyelop. (Supplement, 1922), art. “ Hungary ” ; also Studies 
(Dec., 1922), pp. 541-558, art. “Bolshevik Revolution in Hungary,” by 
Rev. L. McKenna, S.J. 

3 Cf. Studies (Sept., 1923), pp. 361-377 (" The Bolshevik Revolution 
in Munich,” by Rev. L. McKenna, S.J.), for an account of the short-lived 
Soviet regime in Munich in March, 1919, 



World-wide Soviet Propaganda. — Propaganda, however, 
of unprecedented activity, and peaceful penetration of 
various kinds and degrees go on in most countries of Europe 
and America, and even in India and China, without inter- 
mission or relaxation. This propaganda is evidently sup- 
ported by an unstinted supply of funds. A sustained attack 
is being made on identical lines in all countries. The object 
of this campaign of propaganda is to root out from the 
minds of the people the Christian faith and even the belief 
in God, and to overthrow the existing civilisation founded 
upon that faith. With this purpose organisations of 
immense variety are formed : meetings and conferences are 
held ; magazines, newspapers, leaflets, films, dramatic re- 
presentations, sporting clubs, literary and academic societies, 
and so forth, are utilised to interpenetrate every social class, 
dominate every regional and national movement, and allure 
every type of mind. It is impossible within our available 
space to do more than indicate in a general way the main 
outlines of this unprecedented and portentous phenomenon 
which is essentially international and gives evidence of 
intense driving force, superb administrative organisation, 
and the command of almost limitless supplies of funds. 

The Komintern. — In 1919 the Bolshevist leaders founded 
at Moscow The Communist International, commonly called 
the Komintern, which they term the (real) Third Inter- 
national, and to which the words of the Preamble to the 
Soviet Constitution may be truly applied that it “ marks a 
decisive step in the direction of the confederation of the 
labouring classes of the world for the realisation of the 
great world Socialist Soviet Republic.” 1 The device of the 
league, printed in six different languages under the arms 2 
of the U.S.S.R., is that of the Communist Manifesto, 
“ Proletarians of all Countries unite ! ” The personnel of 
the Executive Committee of the Communist International, 
comprising twenty members, belonging to fourteen different 
States (France, England, Japan, China, etc.), include for 
Russia itself the names of some of the leading Ministers of 

1 Q doted in Gautherot — Le Monde Communists, p. 50. 

2 The arms of the Russian Soviet Social Union are made up of a sickle 
and a hammer surmounting a globe surrounded by rays, the whole 
dominated by a star with five rays. Ib. 


the Russian Soviet State, such as Zinoviev (President) 
Bukarin and Stalin. 1 

The avowed object of the Komintern is to bring about 
revolutionary upheavals in the different countries of the 
world with a view to the formation of a world socialist State 
under the dictatorship of the Communist party. This policy 
was clearly enunciated at the second congress (“ World 
Congress ”), which was held in Moscow (July August, 1919). 2 
In the official account published in the Communist Inter- 
national 3 (the official organ of the Komintern), we read 
that the following resolutions were passed at the Congress : 

(a) That the Communist party must enter the different 
national parliaments not for the purpose of organisation 
work, but in order to blow up the whole bourgeois machinery 
and the Parliament itself from within. 

(b) That the policy of the Komintern is that of the 
revolutionary Marxian doctrine. . . . “ The working classes 
cannot achieve a complete victory over the bourgeois by 
means of the General Strike alone and by the policy of 
folded arms. The proletariat must resort to an armed 

(c) That “ iron discipline [viz., perfect obedience to the 
decrees of the Komintern] is to be the first commandment 
of the Communists.” 

From these resolutions and numberless other evidences 
it is clear that the Komintern is a distinctly revolutionary 
and anti-national organisation, ruled from Moscow. 

The Komintern has now spread its tentacles all over 
Europe, Asia, and America. There is a central European 
secretariate with headquarters at Vienna, a Western secre- 
tariate with headquarters at Amsterdam, 4 and an Eastern 
secretariate for the Far East. In 1924 the total Russian 

1 lb., p. 52. Webster — Socialist Network, p. 139. Trotsky, while at 

the head of the War Department, was also one of the Russian repre- 
sentatives on the Executive Committee of the Komintern. 

3 The Russian delegates at this Congress were Lenin, Zinoviev, Bukarin 
and Trotsky, all Jews ; those from England were Quelch, Gallagher, Sylvia 
Pankhurst and W. Macklaine. 

3 No. 13, pp. 2405-2454 (quoted in The Socialist Network, p. 139). 

4 It has been recently removed to London, from which Communist 
organisers are attempting to exploit the unemployment and general 
poverty in Dublin and other Irish cities in favour of a movement towards 



membership was officially put down at 699,689 (including 
73,328 women), 1 and that of the non-Russian European 
affiliated branches at 656,090 . 2 Besides the Communist 
International, which is published in several languages, 3 
there are in the different countries special organs of 
Communist propaganda which the Komintern inspires or 
directly controls. Of these we may mention : L’Humanite 
in France ; Die Rothe Fahne in Germany ; the Drapeau 
Rouge (daily) and the Roode Vann (weekly) in Belgium, etc. 

The Proflntern. — Another International Communist 

organisation is the Red International Labour Union, com- 
monly known as the Proflntern (from the two Russian words 
Professionalye International). This union is completely con- 
trolled by the Central Executive Committee of Moscow, 
which i3 itself, like the Executive Committee of the U.S.S.R. 
and the Komintern, dominated by the Russian Communist 
party. 4 

The British section of the Prolintern is usually styled 
“The Minority Movement.” Its organ is The Worker 
(weekly). It also publishes an English edition of The Red 
International of Labour Unions (monthly). 

In 1923, two years after the foundation of the Proflntern, 
the total European membership was set down at between 
twelve and thirteen millions of workers ; 5 6 but how far such 
figures represent anything approaching the reality and 
what is the real strength of the Red Labour movement it is 
difficult or practically impossible to determine. 

1 According to the Izvestia (official organ of the Soviet Government 
Party) of Feb. 15th, 1925 (quoted in Gautherot, op. cit., p. 237). 

2 Official statistics presented at the Fifth World Congress of the 
Komintern, which was held at Moscow, 7th July, 1924 ( ib p. 238). 

3 Another Bolshevist international organ is the Inprecorr ( International 
Press Correspondence) which, like the Communist International , is also 

printed in several languages. The Labour Research is an English Com- 
munist monthly specially devoted to the collection and publication of 
matter in aid of Communist propaganda. 

* Cf. Socialist Network, pp. 80, 81, and pp. 138, 139, where from the 
different lists of the leaders it appears that the leaders of the Red Inter- 
national are partly identical with the Communist leaders. 

6 Le Bulletin Communiste, Aug. 2nd, 1923 (quoted in Gautherot, ib., 
P- 239). 


Other International Communist Organisations. — The 

Komintern is seconded in its efforts by other allied associa- 
tions, such as the International Association for the Support 
of the Defenders of the Revolution, apparently identical with 
Friends of Soviet Russia , 1 whose main business is that of 
propaganda by the Press, by brochures, leaflets, etc., which 
are scattered among the peasant industrial workers. Among 
the other numerous subsidiary international organisations 
dominated by the Komintern may be mentioned The 
Young Communist League or International of Communist 
Youth (which counts 700,000 members in Russia, 70,000 in 
Germany, etc., and whose congress, held at Moscow (1924) 
included 144 delegates from different parts of the world, 
all under 23 years of age); 2 the League of International 
Sport; The Workers’ Theatre TJn.on; The International 
Association of Proletarian Freethinkers 3 (to which the 
Russian League of Militant Atheists is affiliated) ; The 
International Peasants’ League (Krestintern) ; the Society for 
Cultural Relations between the People of the British Common- 
wealth and the U.S.S.R. 

Other instruments of Corftmunist interpenetration are 
the Soviet Trade Delegations, now established in most 
countries, and enjoying full diplomatic immunity. The 
vast London Delegation, commonly called Arcos, has 800 
departments, including those of trade, commerce, banking, 
etc. In real fact, however, it is an active world-centre of 
intensive Communist propaganda. 4 

All these and numerous other leagues and organ 'sations, 
some open and some secret, inspired by the Bolshevist 

1 A branch of the “ Friends of Soviet Russia ” existed in Dublin, 1929-31, 
and carried on an active Soviet propaganda among the Catholic working- 
men. Its members were said to number over a hundred (1931), a large 
percentage of whom were women. Very many (probably most) of the 
Catholic members of the association had been deluded by the leaders 
into the belief that the economic and political principles of Communism 
can be detached from its essentially anti-Christian character. The 
association was suppressed by the Government in 1931. 

2 Gautherot, ib., pp. 53, 54. 

2 It was this International League that organised and conducted the 
unspeakable anti-Christian Exhibition in Berlin which the Government 
was forced to suppress owing to the strong protests of the Catholics. 
See Notes Queedam, p. 8. 

1 A Soviet publication allied to the activities of the Arcos is the Moscow 
News, printed in Moscow, of which copies are sometimes distributed in 
Dublin, where dephts of the Arcos were opened in 1931. 


movement, directly or indirectly controlled from Moscow, 
and in some instances at least aided by the resources of 
Communist finance, are merely units in one great division 
of the army wh ch is now waging a world-wide war against 
Christianity, and whose centra 1 objects of attack are the 
Church, the home, and the fatherland. 

It is in reference to these organisations and the Communist 
interpenetration and propaganda of wh'ch they are the 
means that Pius XI has written the words of warning and 
rebuke to the ru’ers of States who allow such pernicious 
activities to go on in their territories, and who besides neglect 
to remove the causes which impel the suffering masses 
towards Communism : 

“ We cannot contemplate without sorrow,” he writes, “ the 
heedlessness of those who seem to make light of these imminent 
dangers, and with stolid indifference allow the propagation far 
and wide of these doctrines, which seek by bloodshed and violence 
the destruction of all society. Even more severely must be con- 
demned the foolhardiness of those who neglect to remove or 
modify such conditions as exasperate the minds of the people, 
and so prepare the way for the overthrow and ruin of the social 
order.” 1 

Art. 3 — The Soviet Governmental System 

Ideal Not National Or Patriotic. — The ideal aimed at in the 
Union of the Socialist Soviet Republics (U.S.S.R.) is not 
a Russian Empire but an international union intended 
ultimately to include the whole world. The fact that 
Sovietism has its present centre in Russia is accidental. 
The Bolshevist leaders would have initiated the movement 
just as willingly in London, Paris or Berlin, had the 
opportunity offered. The Communists do not admit the 
principle of the natural division of the human race into 
different nations and states, each state forming a supreme 
and independent society, to which its members are bound 
by ties of patriotism and legal justice. Instead of the 
Christian virtue of patriotism they substitute devotion to 
humanity and zeal in the prosecution of the class war. 
The object of the latter is to establish and maintain the 

1 Quadragesimo Anno, 1931 (C. T. S. edit., p. 50). 


“ Dictatorship of the Proletariat ” until all class distinctions 
and state boundaries are destroyed and governmental 
authority automatically ceases. 1 

Consequently the army of the Union is not called the 
Russian Army but the Red Army. The flag is not the 
Russian flag but the Red flag of “ Universal Brotherhood.” 
The design on the coins of the Union is not a national 
one, but the sickle and the hammer, with the legend, 
“ Workers of the World, Unite ! ” A worker of any country 
who happens to reside within the Union needs no ceremony 
of naturalisation to possess all the rights of citizenship. 

Governmental System. — In actual fact, however, the 
All-Russian Central Executive Council and the smaller 
Council of the People’s Commissaries, both of which are 
appointed by the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, govern 
the Union. The All-Russian Congress of Soviets forms, as 
it were, the apex of a pyramid of soviets. It is made up 
of delegates from the soviets of the various republics in 
the Union. These soviets are themselves composed of 
delegates from the soviets of the Provinces, and so on 
through the soviets of the cantons, the districts, the villages, 
and the factories. There is a highly elaborated system of 
representation , 2 in which the industrial or professional unit, 
such as the factory, is substituted for the local constituency. 
According to the written constitution, the delegates may be 
recalled at any time by those whom they are supposed to 
represent ; and there is no division such as exists in other 
states between the executive and the legislative authority. 

A Limited Franchise. — The government does not, however, 
profess to be a democracy, except in a limited sense ; for 
whole classes are excluded from the rights of citizenship. 
These rights are confined to the proletariat or working class, 
just as in the mediaeval state they were confined to the 
feudal class, or in the Irish State system of the 18th century 

1 The professed aims of the Communist Party are : “ To end the dom- 
ination of capital and make war impossible, to wipe out State boundaries, 
to transform the whole world into one co-operative commonwealth, and bring 
about human brotherhood and freedom." From the New Communist 
Manifesto (Cf. Postgate, op. cit., p. 191). 

2 Cf. Postgate, op. cit., chap, xi ; Gautherot, op. cit., p. 36. 


the framework of a Christian state 

to the Colonial Protestant class. Hence the government is 
called the “ Dictatorship of the Proletariat,” just as the 
early mediaeval system of government in most European 
states might be called the “ Dictatorship of the Feudal 
Class,” or the 17th and 18th century British Government 
the “ Dictatorship of the Propertied Classes.” 

All the working population w-ho are over eighteen years 
of age have votes, irrespective of sex, nationality or religion. 
On the other hand, all are excluded from the franchise who 
employ others for wages or live on income not earned by 
personal labour, such as dividends on invested capital, 
interest on money, rent, etc. Priests, religious, traders, 
and commercial travellers, are also excluded. Hence the 
electors are mostly the poorer peasants, the industrial 
workers and the soldiers of the Red Army. 1 The skilled 
artisans and clerical workers also have the franchise, but 
on a much less favourable basis than the unskilled. The 
industrial workers are favoured beyond the peasants. 2 Thus 
the franchise is confined to the less educated and more 
unstable elements of the community, who (especially when 
the influence of the Church is eliminated and the Press 
completely in the hands of the administration) are easily- 
controlled by the Communist leaders. 

" The essence of the Soviet power,” writes Lenin, “ consists 
in the fact that the unique basis of . . . public authority is 
constituted by the mass organisation of exactly those classes 
which were oppressed by Capitalism — the worker and semi- 
proletarian and the peasants, who do not exploit hired labour, 
but are forced to sell a fraction of their own labour power.” 3 

Soviet leaders profess that the system of limited franchise 
is intended only for the transition period ; namely, until 
the power of the “ bourgeois ” class is broken, and the 

1 Cf. Official Report, etc., pp. 9, 10 and 101. 

2 " The industrial proletariat is favoured . . . because it is the most 
aggressive, the best organised and politically ripest class under whose 
leadership the semi-proletarian and small farmers will be gradually 
elevated.” New Communist Manifesto (Postgate, op. cit., p. 195). 

5 Lenin’s Theses (No. 14) presented at the Third International (Cf. 
Postgate, op. cit., p. 212). Note the use of the term exploit in this citation. 
The term is here a propagandist word, implying the fallacy already re- 
ferred to that the wage contract is always unjust and necessarily includes 
an exploitation of the wage-earner. This principle is condemned by 
Leo XIII and Pius XI (Cf. Quadragesima Anno, 1931, p. 31). 


State transformed into a “ Classless Communist Common- 
wealth.” 1 

The Communist Party. — Side by side with the official 
government there is the political organisation of the Com- 
munist Party, which is the parent body of the Komintern. 
In theory the Communist Party bears somewhat the same 
relation to the administration as an ordinary party organisa- 
tion in England or the U.S.A. may bear to the actual 
government of the country. The Communist Party, how- 
ever, completely dominates the government. It is a closely 
organised body of militant Communists, mostly soldiers, 
industrial workers, students and government officials, with 
a certain sprinkling of peasants. 2 Candidates for member- 
ship have to undergo a probation of six months and receive 
a recommendation from two existing members before being 
enrolled. The whole Communist Party, including the 
candidates, numbers, or numbered a few years ago, a little 
less than 700,000. 3 These form the nucleus and driving 
power of the whole Communist organisation. They are 
an active, enthusiastic and well-disciplined body. All must 
profess and follow the extreme Communist creed, any 
deviation from which, such as a religious marriage, circum- 
cision as a religious ceremony, and so forth, entails ex- 
pulsion from the party. 4 

Party Controls the Government. -The Communist Party 
utilises the machinery of government to keep the power 
in their own hands. By means of a highly organised press 
propaganda (the pressmen being specially selected and 
trained for the purpose at the public expense), 5 by rigging 
the elections and manipulating the results ; by terrorism 
and bribery ; by the activities of a whole network of Com- 

1 New Communist Manifesto (Postgate, op. cit., p. 193). 

2 Cf. Gautherot, op. cit., pp. 27, 28, for the relative numbers. The 
number of peasants in the Communist Party is given as 66,000 by the 
Izvestia (15th Feb., 1925). The total peasant population of the Union 
is over 100 millions. 

2 Cf. Izvestia, ib. (quoted, ib., p. 237). Note that the total population of 
the Union of which the Communist Party is the real governing power, is 
about 150 millions, so that the Russian Communist Party is less than 
l per cent, of the whole population. 

4 Official Report, etc., pp. 13, 14. 

* Gautherot, op. cit., p. 36. 



munist agencies 1 operating in the local soviets, the factories, 
and the villages they manage completely to control the 
elections, while still preserving some outward semblance of 
democracy. 2 

In the All-Russian Congress of Soviets, which is the 
supreme governing authority of the Union, more than 
80 per cent, of the deputies are members of the Communist 
Party, which thus completely dominates the assembly. 3 
Seeing that it is these Congresses that appoint the Central 
Executive Council and the smaller Council of the People’s 
Commissaries, which are the actual governing bodies of 
the Union (the People’s Commissaries being the heads of 
the several departments of State, like the members of the 
British Cabinet), one need not wonder at the fact that the 
personnel of these two councils are practically all members 
of the Communist Party and mostly identical with the 
personnel of the Executive Committee (Polit- Bureau) of 
the Communist Party itself. 4 * 6 * Hence the Communist Party 
is at present the real governing power of Soviet Russia, just 
as it is the driving and directing force of the Komintern, 
the Profintern and the other subsidiary Communist organisa- 

Its Jewish Element. — In order to understand the position 
more fully, one must keep in mind the predominating influence 
of the Jews in Russian Communism, a fact which is now 
generally recognised. The whole Socialist movement is 
largely a Jewish creation. The founders of Socialism — 
Marx, Engels and Lasalle — were Jews, as was also Ricardo, 
from whom some of the fundamental principles of Socialism 8 
are borrowed. Even before the Great War the Socialist 
movement over the whole world was controlled almost 

1 76., pp. 36, 37. 

2 lb., pp. 36-50. Official Report, etc., pp. 12-17. 

’Thus of the 1,300 deputies present at the Congress of 1924, 1,100 

were members of the Communist Party ; and at the Congress held in 
May, 1925, consisting of 1,244 deputies, 1,000 belonged to the same 
Party. Cf. Gautherot, op. cit., pp. 30 and 32 (notes). 

1 Cf. Gautherot, op. cit., pp. 31, 32 ; also Mrs. Webster’s Socialist Net- 
work, pp. 138, 139, where the names of the members of the different bodies 
as they were in March, 1926, are given in full. 

6 Viz., Marx’s Theory of Value and Lasalle’s Iron Law of Wages. It 

should be added that both Marx and Ricardo, though Jews by birth, 

became Protestants. 


entirely by Jews. 1 * This was specially true of Russia, which 
contained a large portion of the Jewish population of the 
world, and where for the past century the Jews have usually 
been the centre of the subversive movements. 

The predominance of the Jewish element in Russian 
Communism is strikingly illustrated in a brochure entitled 
Who Governs Russia ? 2 This brochure, which is carefully 
documented from Soviet official sources, 3 contains lists of 
the chief government officials of the Soviet Union as they 
were in 1919-1920, indicating the nationality of each. Of 
the 22 Commissaries of the People 17 were Jews, and the 
President, Oulianoff (Lenin), a Russian (Mongolian) born 
of a Jewish mother. Of the 43 members of the Commis- 
sariat of War 33 were Jews, including the President, 
Bronstein (Trotsky). Of the 64 members of the Commis- 
sariat of the Interior 45, including the President, Apfelbaum 
(Zinoviev), were Jews. Of the 30 members of the Commis- 
sariat of Finance 24 were Jews. Of the 21 members of the 
Commissariat of Justice 18 were Jews; and so on through 
all the different departments of State. The names of 413 
leading officials are given ; and of these 345 are Jews and 
only about two dozen are Russian, the remainder being of 
other different nationalities. Lists are also given of tho 
members of the Central Executive Council as elected by the 
Fourth and Fifth All-Russian Congress of Soviets. Thirty- 
three out of the 34 members appointed by the Fourth 
Congress are Jews, the remaining one being Lenin himself ; 

1 Cf. De Poncins, op. cit., p. 197, where a series of texts mostly from 
Jewish writers in support of this statement is quoted. 

8 Published 1920 by the American Association known as Unity of Russia 
(12 1 East 7th Street, New York). A summary of the brochure, including 
the lists of names, is given in Jouin — Les Fideles de la Contre Eglise, 
pp. 109-136. Cf. also Poncins, op. cit., pp. 160 fl, where the dominant r61e 
of the Jews in Bolshevism is shown from official documents of the French 
and U.S.A. Governments drawn up in 1919. Cf. also La Documentation 
Catholique, 1920, where the most important of these documents was pub- 
lished for the first time. Samuel Gompers, himself a Jew, published two 
articles in the New York Times (May, 1922, and Dec., 1923), revealing 
the support given to the Communists by certain very well-known and 
highly placed Jewish bankers of U.S.A. (two well-known bankers are 
mentioned by name). The name of a third, equally well-known, occurs 
frequently in the documents reproduced in Poncins ( loc . cit. and pp. 132 ff 
of the English edition of the same work. Cf. also Fry, op. cit., chap, v.) 

* Viz., the Izvestia, Golos Frouda, the Red Gazette and others. 



and of the 62 members appointed by the Fifth Congress 1 
43 were Jews and only 6 were Russians. In a further series 
of lists the writer gives the names of the leaders of the other 
so-called Russian Socialist parties who are opposed, or affect 
opposition, to the Communist Party. Of the 64 names 
enumerated 59 are Jews and only 4 are Russian. 2 

Although since the' accession of Stalin to power (1928) 
efforts have occasionally been made by some of the native 
Russian Soviet leaders to rid themselves of the Jewish 
domination, with the result that several important Jewish 
leaders, including Bronstein (Trotsky), have disappeared 
from the public view, Jews still hold most of the key 
positions in the Soviet government. Thus we learn from 
the Forwerts (Sept. 16, 1931), a New York Yiddish daily, 3 
that the following high placed Soviet officials are Jews : 
Litvinov, Commissar for Foreign Affairs ; Jakovlev, 
Minister for Agriculture ; Rosengoltz, Director of Foreign 
Commerce ; Ruchimowits, Commissar for Transport, Rail- 
ways, etc. Raganowits, Stalin’s right hand man and the 
real author as well as practical director of the “ Five Years’ 
Plan,” is also a Jew. Again, we learn from the Jewish 
World (June 25th, 1931) that another Jew, Gurewitch, is 
Chairman of the most important commercial committee ; and 
that “ Jews hold many other responsible posts.” The 
Jewish World adds: 

“ In so far as the Communist Party (viz., practically the 
Government) are in a position to control the attitude towards 
the Jew everything possible is done to make no distinction 
between Jew and non-Jew. . . . But anti-Semitism is spreading 
in spite of the authorities. It is like a disease that has penetrated 
to the blood of the masses. Wherever one goes one observes 
this anti-Jewish feeling ... in the factory, among the Com- 
munist workers, among the petty officials, and among certain 
sections of the peasants, who were formerly not ill-disposed 
towards Jews.” 4 

The general conclusion from all the above seems to be 

1 This was the Congress that adopted the present Soviet Constitution. 

z The Jewish Bolshevist leaders are apparently of the Rationalistic and 
Cabalistic type, who reject all real religion (cf. Cahill, op. cit., chap, iv 
and passim). Orthodox lews are in fact persecuted under the Soviet 

3 Cited in The Patriot, Oct. 15th, 1931, p. 373. 

4 Cited in The Patriot (ib.). 


that the Russian Revolution was not the result, at least 
in the shape it has assumed, of a genuine national movement ; 
and that the present regime is in reality a tyranny exercised 
by an oligarchy largely alien, who represent the real Russian 
people as little as the Protestant colonial oligarchy that 
governed Ireland after the Puritan conquest of the 17th 
century represented the Irish people. 1 The rising tide of 
anti- Jewish animosity referred to in the above extract 
seems to suggest the beginning of a Russian reaction which 
sooner or later is inevitable against the tyranny imposed 
upon the nation by a highly organised oligarchy largely 
alien in race, and un-Russian and anti-Christian in outlook 
and ideals. 

Art. 4 — The Soviet Internal Policy 

General Character of Soviet Regime. — The Russian Re- 
volution implies a radical change in the Christian organisation 
of society ; and the repudiation of several of the most sacred 
and fundamental principles of conduct in men’s daily lives. 
The Soviet social system represents the natural outcome and, 
as it were, the ripened fruit of the Secularism, Naturalism 
and Modernism which are rampant to-day among the nations 
of the European races. 2 We can only touch briefly on some 
of the central points in which it is at variance with 
Christian principles. 

Intensive Religious Persecution. — In pursuance of the 
materialistic principles of Karl Marx, the Soviet State in 
theory and according to its Constitution, excludes all con- 
sideration of religion, of the Deity, and of the moral law. 
In actual fact, however, the Soviet government and regime 
are positively and fanatically anti-religious, to a degree that 
would seem incredible, were not the facts established beyond 
all doubt. Thus by a Soviet decree of 1929 Atheism has 

1 Cf. Webster — Secret Societies and Subversive Movements, chap, xv ; 
Revue Internationale des Sociitis Secretes (published weekly at Avenue 
Portalis 8, Paris VUIe), passim; also De Poncins, op. cit., pp. 126-160. 

2 “ The new Russia is a challenge to Christian society ; and the New 
Russia does not stand alone. The challenge comes from the whole modem 
world. Russia has revealed the strength and the possible outcome of the 
tendencies of the day in Western Countries, especially in England." 
(From an article entitled " Reflections after Visiting Russia,” by H. 
Somerville, M.A., published in Studies, December, 1929, p. 357.) 



been made a kind of State dogma : and the provisions of 
the Soviet Constitution allowing religious freedom were 
annulled. Atheists alone are allowed the right of teaching 
their “ beliefs.” The religious persecution which has been 
carried on with varying intensity since the establishment of 
the Soviet regime has of late years definitely assumed the 
character of an anti-God campaign. The sacrilegious out- 
rages which are committed “ go far beyond and even against 
the text of the revolutionary constitution although that was 
already very anti-religious.” 1 

The persecution, though in many respects conducted along 
the traditional lines followed by the enemies of Christianity 
for almost 2000 years, is in some ways unique in history. 
L'ke the 18th century religious persecution in Ireland it 
is directed against the overwhelming majority of the people. 
But unlike every other religious persecution known to 
history the aim and object of the Bolshevik anti-religious 
campaign is not the establishment of some particular cult, 
such as paganism or Calvinism or Judaism, but the de- 
struction of every form of religious worship and the 
elimination from the people’s minds of all idea of a Supreme 
Deity or a moral law. In this particular, and in the subtle 
and comprehensive character of its anti-religious propaganda, 
the Soviet State would seem to be a foretaste of the rule of 
Anti-Christ. 2 

Pius XI and the Soviet Persecution. —Pius XI stigma- 
tises and laments this inhuman persecution in a letter 
addressed (Jan., 1930) to Cardinal Pompili, the Cardinal- 
Vicar of Rome. 

“ We are deeply moved,” he writes, “ by the horrible and 
sacrilegious crimes that are repeated every day with increasing 
intensity, against God and against the vast population of 
Russia. . . . 

“ From the very beginning of Our Pontificate we multiplied 
Our efforts to put an end to this terrible persecution, and to 
avert the grievous evils that press upon these peoples. We were 

1 From the letter of Pius XI to Cardinal Pompili (Jan., 1930), referred 
to infra. For many details of the Soviet persecution, proved from Soviet 
official sources, cf. an article by G. M. Godden in the Irish Rosary, August 
I93i, PP- 587-599- 

2 Cf. Cahill, op. cit., pp. 67-74. See also the booklet, God and the Soviet, 
by E. A. Amedingen ( Irish Messenger Series, 1931). 


also at pains to ask the Governments represented at the Con- 
ference of Genoa to make by common agreement a declaration, 
which might have saved Russia and all the world from many 
woes, demanding as a preliminary to any recognition of the 
Soviet Government respect for conscience, freedom of worship, 
and of Church property. Alas, these three points, so essential 
above all to those ecclesiastical hierarchies unhappily separated 
from Catholic unity, were abandoned in favour of temporal 
interests, which in fact would have been better safeguarded if 
the different Governments had first of all considered the rights 
of God, His Kingdom, and His Justice. ... 1 

“ This sacrilegious impiety rages against all priests and the 
adult faithful, amongst whom, in addition to other victims 
faithful to the service of God, We hail in a particular manner, 
our most beloved sons. Catholic priests and religious, imprisoned, 
deported, and condemned to forced labour, with five other 
bishops, our venerable brethren Boleslao Sloskana and Alessandro 
Frison, together with Our representative for the Slavic rite, the 
Catholic Exarch, Leonida Fiorrov. . . . 

“ But the organisers of this campaign of atheism and the 
‘ Anti-God-Front ’ wish above all to pervert youth, abusing 
their simplicity and ignorance. For, instead of imparting in- 
struction, science and culture, which, like honesty, justice and 
goodness itself, cannot prosper or flourish without religion, they 
organise the ‘ Militant No-God League.’ They deceitfully hide 
their moral, cultural, and even economic decadence by an 
agitation as barren as it is inhuman, instigating children to 
denounce their parents, to destroy and defile the religious build- 
ings and emblems, and above all to contaminate their souls by 
every kind of vice and the most shameful sins. . . . During the 
recent festival of Christmas (1929) hundreds of churches were 
closed and numbers of icons [viz., sacred images] burnt, and 
servile work imposed for that day upon the workers and school 
children. The Sundays also were suppressed by law. Things 
have even come to such a pass that those employed in the work- 
shops, both men and women, are compelled to sign a declaration 
of formal apostasy and hatred of God, under pain of being 
deprived of their tickets for food, clothing and lodging, without 
which [tickets] every inhabitant of that unhappy country must die 
in cold, hunger and misery , 2 

“ In all the cities and in many villages infamous spectacles 
were organised, similar to those which the foreign diplomatist 

1 The diplomatic eSorts of the Holy Father here referred to took place 
in 1922 . 

2 Italics not in the original. 




beheld last Christmas in Moscow, in the very centre of the capital 
city. They saw lorries pass by in which large numbers of young 
men were arrayed in sacred vestments, and holding Crosses upon 
which they spat. Other lorries carried large Christmas trees 
from the branches of which numerous dolls hung by the neck 
dressed to represent Catholic and Orthodox Bishops. In the 
centre of the city other youths performed every species of outrages 
against the Cross.” 1 

Soviet Methods. — The policy of the persecutors is not to 
proclaim openly their anti-religious aims, but rather to 
make religious practice ridiculous and impossible, while 
nominally allowing it and to commit the direct work of 
destroying religion to apostate priests, and la}' people, 
especially the young. 2 Hence the victims of the religious 
persecutions are never formally condemned for religious 
practice or profession, but under some such pretext as 
violating the laws, plotting against the Soviet Government, 

Meanwhile, however, religious teaching in public or 
private schools is forbidden. It is made a criminal offence 
punishable by hard labour of one year to teach religion to 
a person under 18 years of age ; churches are being gradually 
closed or confiscated for profane uses ; 3 a religious 
marriage is held invalid in law 7 ; 4 * Christian feasts, including 
Sundays, are abolished, and the clergy harassed in every 
available way and even deprived of the means of subsistence. 
The destruction of the monasteries and Christian schools 
has rendered impossible the training of a native priesthood, 
which seems therefore doomed to destruction. Of the 
Catholic priests in Russia about 50 per cent., including at 
least tw'o bishops, together with the Catholic Exarch 

1 Cf. Soviet Campaign Against God ( Protest of Pius XI) (C. T. S.). For 
original, see Apostolicee Sedis, Feb. 22nd, 1930, p. 69. 

* This policy is described in Bezbojnik (3rd March, 1929), one ol the 
Communist organs, in the following terms : “ To make not martyrs but 
apostates of the Christians, so that these latter may become champions 
of Atheism and impiety ” (cited in Notes Queedam, p. 4). 

3 Thus, according to the Soviet official statistics in the Republic of 
Russia proper alone, during the year 1929, there were closed or con- 
fiscated 1,119 churches (viz., 530 in the cities and 589 in the rural districts), 
126 synagogues, and 124 mosques (Cf. Notes Queedam, p. 5). 

4 This impious law prevails also at present in several other countries, 

in which also Christian festivals have been abolished. 


Leonidas Fiodorov, are. at present (1931) in prison or under- 
going sentence of hard labour. 1 

Besides all this there is a highly organised anti-religious 
propaganda carried on all over the Union. This, although 
not an officially acknowledged government activity is 
assisted and facilitated by the Government to such a degree 
that it may almost be described as the most important 
government function. 

Anti-Religious Organisations. — The most prominent and 
aggressive of the anti-religious organisations is the “ League 
of Militant Atheists,” founded in 1922 ; and formally 
approved by Stalin, then General Secretary of the Com- 
munist party, in 1925. This league, whose membership is 
over half a million, directs and controls all the anti-religious 
activities all over the Union. It practically controls the 
whole Russian Press, which it makes an instrument of its 
propaganda. 2 

Since 1926 it has affiliated to it the “ International 
Association of Proletarian Freethinkers ” with its centre in 
Vienna destined for international anti-religious propaganda. 
For the same purpose was established a few years ago the 
association of “ Young Russian Atheists.” By means of 
these leagues the anti-religious propaganda is carried on 
in the Press, the Trade Unions Clubs, above all in the schools 
and colleges and all the public institutions. 3 

Family in the Soviet System. — The Soviet State does not 
recognise the family as a social unit. The Christian principle 
founded on the natural law (and hitherto more or less 
recognised in all types of social organisations, whether 
Christian or otherwise), according to which the married 
pair form one moral person, inseparably united and jointly 
responsible for their children’s upbringing, is rejected. 

1 Cf. Notie Qutsdam. According to more recent reports, especially that 
of Mgr. D’Herbigny, who travelled in Russia disguised as a workman (1931), 
almost all the Catholic priests have been put to death or imprisoned. 

2 The total roll of members of the League is about 600,000. The total 
number of professed atheists in the Union is estimated at about 2,300,000. 
lb., p. 9. 

3 Cf. An article entitled " The Anti-God Front in Soviet Russia,” by 
Mgr. D’Herbigny, in Studies, March, 1930, for an account of the recent 
anti-religious laws of April, 1929, which are far more severe and searching 
than any that preceded them. 



(а) Family Rights and Duties not Recognised by Law.— 

Under the Soviet system “a man has no dependents.” 
The responsibility for the children’s rearing and education 
is transferred to the State, to which the children are 
supposed to belong. 1 In industry and all social relations, 
men and women, whether married or not, are regarded in 
law as isolated individuals depending on the State, working 
as separate units and receiving individually their wages and 
State allowances, called “ benefits.” In order to prevent 
the accumulation of personal property, which is more or 
less bound up with the Christian principle of the parents or 
the head of the family being responsible for the future 
prospects of children, a man cannot leave to his heirs more 
than £1,000. The rest of his property, if he have such, 
goes to the State after his death. 2 

(б) Marriage Practically Abolished by Soviet Law. — 

Marriage in the Soviet State is merely a matter of witnessed 
registration. Divorce is still easier, and may always be 
had on application. Illegitimate children have in law 
exactly the same legal standing as those born in wedlock. 
In fact the principle of illegitimacy is not recognised in 
Soviet law. 3 Birth control is formally encouraged by the 
State. Abortion is legalised. 

(c) Family Life Positively Discouraged. — Not only is the 
family not recognised as a social unit, but family life is 
positively discouraged. The whole tendency of the State 
policy is to transfer the social centre of gravity from the 
home to the club. 4 In the Communistic system of pro- 
prietorship (or rather the absence of proprietorship) as 
conceived in the Soviet State, the domestic privacy of a 
home that is one’s own can scarcely be realised. Hence in 
the great centres such as Moscow and Leningrad, where the 
Soviet system is in full operation, there is little or no family 
life. 6 

1 Official Report, p. 130. 2 Ib., pp. 101-104. 3 /6., p.124. 4 J6., pp. 99 If. 

6 The following passage from Russia To-day and Yesterday (a book 
favourable to Soviet principles and leaders), by Dr. E. J. Dillon (London, 
1929). illustrates this : 

“ The Muscovites are huddled together like tinned sardines in rooms, 
corridors, cellars . . . corners of staircases. Cosiness, privacy and all 
the elements that constitute a home are eliminated. Only ten per cent, 
of the inhabitants reside in flats, about eighty per cent, vegetate in rooms. 


(d) Appalling Results. — The results of the Soviet attitude 
towards the family and all it stands for may be imagined. 
Sexual vice has become rampant, wherever the Soviet 
system is in real operation. But the worst results are those 
that affect the children. Thus we learn from a Soviet 
official report that in the industrial district of which Moscow 
is the centre, 72 per cent, of the boys and 70 per cent, of 
the girls between the ages of seven and fourteen use alcoholic 
drink ; and that 20| per cent, of the boys and 20 per cent, 
of the girls are habitual drunkards. 1 Immense numbers 
(computed by the million) of boys and girls promiscuously 
rove the country side and the streets of the cities in small 
bands, half naked, half famished, like fierce wild animals, 
ignorant, savage, drunken, eaten up with venereal and other 
diseases. 2 Some of these abandoned and unhappy little 
ones are no doubt the still surviving children of parents 
lost in the original Revolution or the succeeding famines ; 
but the majority are the products of the Soviet system, of 
the usurped guardianship of the State and the destruction 
of family obligations and ties. 3 

while the worst of all are those who have no roof to cover them, and are 
forced to stand in a queue outside a night refuge and wait there in the 
cold till they are let in or turned away. Most of the rooms are occupied 
by three or four persons, some have as many as five inmates. ... I paid 
him [viz., a friend with his family of three] a visit a month or more later, 
and while we were talking in that stuffy reeking chamber, some carpenters 
came in with saws, hammers, planks and nails to make two rooms out 
of the one [which the friend and his family occupied], and worked away 
heedless of our presence ” (pp. 50, 51). 

1 Report of the Lady Doctor Siminova in the Teachers' Journal, No. 5, 
I 9 2 9 - Quoted by Gautherot — Le Communisms a VEcole, p. 36. 

2 Cf. Les Eludes, 5th March, 1930, in an article entitled “ Change sur la 
Face de Russie.” Cf. also Douillet, op. cit., pp. 109 ff, and Dillon, op. cit. 

3 In further illustration of the matter of this section, cf. Gautherot — 
Communisme d VEcole, in which documentation from Soviet sources is 
given, describing conditions in much more lurid terms than given above. 
Cf. also Dillon, op. cit., chap, viii, "Women," in which the Soviet ideal 
and practice are graphically described. The Soviet ideal of the " emanci- 
pated ” woman is summarised in the words of a Soviet woman leader : 
“ Away with the family, husband, pots and kettles, and hurrah for free 
women” ( lb .). Cf. also Etudes (20th Oct., 1931), pp. 129-158, for an 
exceptionally interesting article by Mgr. D’Herbigny, entitled “ Une 
Campagne Sovietique Contre L'Egalitarisme." The article points out 
the recent abandonment by Stalin and the Soviet Government of the ideal 
of social equality and the inauguration of a new economic policy leading 
to class distinction. Most of the article is made up of citations from the 
official Soviet press, which demonstrate a state of widespread wretchedness 
among the people as regards food, clothing, and the prime necessaries 

Of life- 



Education in the Soviet State. — The Soviet government has 
usurped the complete control of education. No other rights 
(such as those of parents and Church) are recognised. 
According to Soviet law education is obligatory and com- 
pletely secular. In actual fact it is naturalistic, materialistic 
and positively irreligious . 1 The full school programme, 
which, however, is apparently not carried out except in the 
great urban centres, includes clothing and food for all 
school and college children and even for University students . 2 

Irreligious and Immoral Character of the Schools. — There, 
is no distinction made between the sexes in any of the 
schools or universities. The school curriculum includes 
detailed instruction in sex relationship. The results on the 
morality of the children and undergraduates, and even of 
the teachers themselves, both men and women, are appalling, 
to a degree that cannot be here described . 3 Furthermore, 
atheism and irreligion are systematically taught ; so that 
it is officially proclaimed that the Soviet School “ must be 
the principal pulpit for the propagation of atheism.” The 
school curricula are arranged with a special view to the 
anti-religious and atheistical formation of the pupils ; and 
numerous other activities are organised for the purpose 
with a thoroughness and shamelessness that would almost 
seem incredible . 4 The League of Militant Atheists have 
charge of the conduct of the anti-religious school propaganda. 

The ideas and principles of the class war are also care- 
fully inculcated in the schools. Thus the abuses and crimes 
of the ruling authorities throughout the centuries are 
strongly emphasied ; and every means is adopted to impress 
on the child’s mind the need of class consciousness ; to 
break down the Christian tradition of reverence for 

1 Cl. W. T. Goode, M.A. — Schools, Teachers and Scholars in Soviet 
Russia (London, 1929). Mr. Goode, who writes as a frank admirer of the 
Soviet system, states that the whole educational system is founded upon 
the materialistic teachings of Marx, Engels, Darwin, Dietzgenmith and 
Lenin. Cf. also Godden — The Soviet and the Child (an article in the Irish 
Rosary, Oct., 1931), pp. 749 ff. 

2 Cf. Official Report, p. 112. 

3 lb., p. 105 ; also Gautherot — Te Monde Communiste, pp. 38, 39 ; and 
Le Communisme a I’Ecole, chap, iv ; also Godden, loc. cit., p. 751. 

1 Cf. Mgr. D’Herbignv in Studies (March, 1930), pp. 46—48. 


authority and lessen or destroy the prestige of the virtues 
of obedience, humility, meekness and purity. 1 

Soviet Economic Regime . 2 — In the first flush of the 
Revolution the nobles and the landed gentry were com- 
pletely displaced, leaving the land entirely in the hands of 
the peasants. Industrial concerns of every kind were con- 
fiscated to the State : the Church property, landed and 
otherwise, was also confiscated ; and private ownership of 
all kinds of capital was abolished by law. 

“ New Economic Policy.” — Soon, however, the economic 
principles of undiluted Socialism were found unworkable. 
This was especially true of the agricultural holders who 
form approximately 85 per cent, of the whole Russian 
population and who, like the peasants all over the world, 
are essentially small-property men. When they learned that 
they had to grow grain not for the market, hut for the State, 
and that only a certain allowance would be assigned them 
for their own needs, they stopped sowing, so that the grain 
crop of 1920 fell to half the normal amount. The result 
was the dreadful famine of 1921 in which, some six millions 
of people died of starvation. 3 

Hence Lenin found himself compelled to abandon at 

1 Cf. Gautherot — Le Communism/! a I'Ecole, loc. cit. ; also Official Report ; 
also Goode, op. cit., p. 22. Our object, as already indicated, is only to 
point out the aspects of the Soviet system which are at variance with 
Christian teaching. That the Soviet theory of education and general 
social organisation does also contain some principles which are in them- 
selves good if detached from the false system of which they form a part 
is not denied. Thus -we read : “ The educational authorities exercise 
a large measure of control over the cinema, the wireless and theatres, all 
of which are national property. . . . The films in the U. S. S. R. are 
supervised by education authorities, and not by the police as in Capitalist 
countries. . . . There are also special theatres run for children " (Un- 
fortunately, however, the educational authorities mostly belong to the 
League of Militant Atheists. Cf. Gautherot — Communisms a I’Ecole, 
passim, Notes Qucedam, etc.). 

Again, we find among the Soviet ideals such principles as the following : 
“ Life and livelihood depend on work. Hence the schools and other 
educational institutions are brought into the closest contact with the life 
of the people around them.” “ Children and teachers take part as workers 
in collective activity of all kinds.” 

These ideas are excellent, but not new. They are an echo of principles 
of education which are as old as Christianity ; but too often disregarded 
in modem pedagogic systems. 

2 Cf. Gautherot — Le Communisme Conire les Paysans, also Le Commun- 
isms- Contre les CEuvriers (Paris, 1931). 

3 Cf. Walsh, op. cit., " Introduction.” 



least partially the Communist system. In 1921-22 what 
was called the New Economic Policy was inaugurated. 
Numerous changes or “ concessions ” of far-reaching import- 
ance were made so that the economic regime was no longer 
socialistic in the full Marxian sense. 1 Thus, although in 
the original revolution all the land was nationalised (or 
“socialised”) and rent and hired labour abolished, there 
was a few years later no less than 96 per cent, of the land 
in the possession of the peasantry, who had practically 
become peasant proprietors paying an annual tax to the 
State. 2 

The smaller industries and the home handicrafts, as well 
as the smaller trading depots, were also “ de-nationalised ” 
and freedom of private enterprise restored. The same 
occurred in regard to many of the larger industries, although 
many, too, continued to be carried on by the State or under 
a mixed management. 3 But all the larger industries, even 
those conducted under private management, were subject 
to many legal restrictions limiting their complete freedom ; 
and their operations were overseen by State inspectors 
recruited from the working classes. 4 

Marxism in Agriculture . 5 — Since the accession of Stalin 
and his party to power in 1928 there has been a return in 
what is called the “ Five Years’ Plan ” to the Marxian 
economic regime both as regards land and the manufacturing 
industries. The “ Five Years’ Plan ” is mainly an attempt 
to “ industrialise ” agriculture, and organise rural operations 
on the system of mass production on a gigantic scale. It 
was calculated that the transition period from tho old 
system would cover about five years (1928-33). Hence the 
name given to the scheme. 

The land is to be taken over from the peasants (who are 
thereby transformed into “ proletarian ” agricultural 
labourers) and laid out in immense farms to be worked 
directly by the State under the supervision of State stewards. 
The work is organised on a military basis and the workers 

1 Cf. Official Report, etc., pp. 3, 4. 2 lb., pp. 63-65. 

3 lb, etc., pp. 50, 51. 1 Tb., pp. 42-51. 

B Cf. Gautherot — Le Communisme Contre les Paysans ; also Walsh, S.J. — 
The Last Stand (Little, Brown & Co., Boston, 1931). This latter book 
contains a fully-documented analysis of the Five Years’ Plan, and the 
policy underlying it. 


are under military discipline. The supervisors are mostly 
Trade Unionists members of the Communist Party who 
have received a summary agricultural training for the 
purpose. Tractors replace for the most part beasts of 
burden. Some 60,000 of these farms are already (1931) 
organised. The farms comprise a very considerable per- 
centage of the whole arable land of the more fertile regions, 
such as the Volga basin, the Ukraine, and some of the 
northern portions of the Caucasian regions. 

The object aimed at by the Soviet leaders in the “ Five 
Years’ Plan ” is twofold . 1 In the first place, they hope to 
render the Russian peasant population amenable to the 
will of the Soviet oligarchy. For this purpose the peasant 
is deprived of his independent ownership of land (and 
thereby of his real freedom of which ownership is the 
foundation), and reduced again to the position of practical 
serfdom. The second object is to increase production with 
a view to world wide domination and a coming w r ar. 

The Kulaks (the more prosperous type of peasants), who 
number about five millions, and the Serendiaki (small 
cottiers of moderate, but what would be under normal 
circumstances, sufficient means), who form about one-half 
of the whole population of Russia (their numbers are 
estimated to be over 76,000,000), are being forced into the 
system against their will by the imposition of impossible 
imposts and taxes. Those who venture to resist openly 
are imprisoned, deported to Siberia or shot offhand . 2 As 
a consequence the conditions of smouldering or suppressed 
war which have existed over large areas of the country since 
1920 have been itensified . 3 

1 Cf. Gautherot, op. tit., pp. 26-29, where the official Soviet declaration 
is cited. 

2 lb., pp. 33-37 ; Walsh, op. tit., chap. iv. 

3 Cf. Gautherot — La Monde Cotnmuniste, pp. 28-29, 36, 37 ; also a 
valuable series of articles in the Osservatore Romano, Dec., 1931, for some 
account, drawn from Soviet official documents of the state of discontent 
and smouldering rebellion which prevails among the Russian peasantry 
under the Soviet regime. Even before the inauguration of the Stalin 
policy of agricultural mass production and forced labour, the settled policy 
of the Government seems to have been (as it needs must be) to keep the 
peasantry helpless (cf. Walsh, loc. tit.). The prevailing conditions show, 
in some respects, a striking analogy to the 18th and 19th century con- 
ditions in Ireland, where a somewhat similar policy was followecl by the 
ruling oligarchy. Cf. O'Brien — Economic History of Ireland in the lyth 
Century and Economic History of Ireland in the 18 (h Century (Maunsell, 
Dublin, 1918-1919). 



Besides the Kulaks and the Serendiaki there are (or were) 
two other types of peasant class in Russia. First come the 
Batraki (agricultural labourers), whose lot was very miser- 
able before the Bolshevist revolution : their number was 
estimated at about five millions in 1925, but showed a 
considerable increase in 1927. The other type is that of 
the very poor cottiers, whose number was estimated at 
twenty-two millions in 1927. These two classes have had 
little or nothing to lose by the imposition of the CQmmunistic 
regime, and probably welcome the change, at least in its 
purely economic aspects. 1 

As to the probable outcome of the “ Five Years’ Plan,” 
it is difficult to form a judgment at the present stage, 
especially as the position is far from clear in many of its 
details. It is likely that the Soviet leaders will succeed 
to a considerable extent in their main object — viz., in 
breaking up the peasant life and rural organisation of 
Russia. That production will be, or can be, permanently 
increased, or even maintained at its previous level by the 
methods put in force is very doubtful : and the statistics 
so far available seem to point to the ultimate failure of the 
“ Plan ” in its economic objectives. 2 

Payment of Workers. — In all enterprises controlled 
directly or indirectly by the State, the worker’s w T age, which 
varies according to the category of his profession or trade, 
is intended to cover only the actual necessities for which he 
has to pay cash. The rest of his requirements — recreation, 
travelling, yearly holiday, medical and insurance benefits, 
the education and upbringing of the family, housing, etc. — 
accrue to him in the form of “ Benefits ” supplied by the 
State, in whose power therefore he entirely is. 

Prospects of the Bolshevist Regime.— -How far the Soviet 
system is in real operation throughout the Empire, or is 
likely to permeate the great masses of the immense popu- 
lation of the Union, it is very difficult to estimate. Even if 
one were to accept as substantially true the statement of 
the British Trades Union delegates of 1925, that the system 
has, or then had, the support of the whole industrial 
population, it would not mean that it was accepted by the 

1 Cf. Gautherot — Le Communisme Contre les Paysans, pp. 23, 24. 

2 Cl. Gautherot, pp. 38 ff, and La Vague Rouge, july-Sept., 1931 ; also 
Walsh, op. cit., chap. vii. 


Russian people. For it must be borne in mind that the 
Russian people are mainly agricultural. The whole in- 
dustrial population, men, women and children, is not much 
over 20 millions, of whom only “ 25 per cent, are members 
of the Trade Unions ” and directly involved in the system. 1 
Whereas the peasants number about 110,000,000. Again, 
the aboriginal tribes, which exist in some parts of the 
Empire, are quite untouched by Communist ideas. 

The worst danger is the aggressively atheistic and 
immoral character of the schools which all the children 
between the ages of seven and sixteen years are legally 
bound to attend, 2 and which it is feared may with time 
destroy the faith and morals of the people of the whole 
Soviet Union. As a fact, however, the law of compulsory 
school attendance has not so far been, and cannot be, 
effectually enforced, owing to the resistance of the peasant 
population : so that the number of school children actually 
show a steady decrease. 3 

The perils which the Soviet propaganda contain even 
for countries outside the Union can scarcely he exaggerated. 
This propaganda is evidently maintained with all the 
resources that money can command. The restoration of 
Christian principles and just conditions in social life, 
together with Catholic organisation, are the only effective 
safeguard against the Soviet menace. 

Conclusion. — We shall conclude our sketch of Revolu- 
tionary Communism by citing the warning words of two 
authorities separated from each other by a space of more 
than four centuries, both of whom inculcate the same 
salutary lesson. The first is Trihemius, whose warning 
words penned at the end of the fourteenth century are so 
apposite to-day as almost to seem prophetic : 

“ If the duty of right use and management of property, 
whether material or spiritual is neglected ; if the rich think that 
they are the sole lords and masters of what they possess, and 
do not heed the needy as their brethren, there must of necessity 
arise an internal disruption of the State. False teachers and 
deceivers will then gain influence ... by preaching to the 
people that earthly property should be equally distributed among 

1 Official Report, pp. 109, no. 

2 Gautherot — Le Monde Communiste, p. 38. 

3 Cf. Ib, — l,e Contmunistne d I’Ecole, pp. 41 ft. 



all, and that the rich must be forcibly condemned to a division 
of their wealth. Then follow lamentable conditions and civil 
wars ; no property is spared ; no rights of ownership any longer 
recognised ; and the wealthy may then justly complain of the 
loss of possessions, which have been unrighteously taken from 
them : but they should also seriously ask themselves whether 
in the days of peace and order they recognised in the adminis- 
tration of those goods the rights of their superior lord and owner ; 
the God of all the earth .” 1 

Our next citation shall be from the recently issued 
Encyclical of Pius XI On Christian Marriage, in which the 
Holy Father spe airing of the duty of the public authorities 
in regard to poor families, emphasises the same warning : 

“If families,” he writes, “have not suitable dwellings; if 
the husband cannot find employment and means of livelihood ; 
if the necessities of life cannot be purchased except at exorbitant 
prices ; if even the mother of the family, to the great harm of 
the home, is compelled to go forth and seek a livelihood by her 
own labour ; if she, too, in the ordinary, or even extraordinary 
labours of childbirth is deprived of proper food, medicine, and 
even the assistance of a skilled physician, it is patent to all . . . 
how great a peril can arise to public security and to the welfare 
and very life of civil society itself, when such men are reduced 
to that condition of desperation, that having nothing which 
they fear to lose they are emboldened to hope for chance ad- 
vantage from the upheaval of the State and established order.” 2 

1 Cited in O’Brien — Essay on “ Mediaeval Economic Teaching,” p. 86 ; 
from Janssen’s History of the German People (English Translation) vol. ii, p. 91 

1 Casti Connubii, Dec., 1930 (See C. T. S. booklet, Christian Marriage, 
by Pius XI.) Appeals for social reconstruction, official and otherwise, 
from the representatives of the Church are becoming more and more 
insistent and urgent in recent years. As one typical example we quote 
the following from a country of Eastern Europe no less Catholic than our 
own : Rev. Jan Urban, S.J., editor of the Polish monthly, Przeglad 

Powszechny, in the number for Dec., 1930, points out the need, especially 
from the religious point of view, of a radical change in economic con- 
ditions and methods ; " The people,” he writes, “ who are still Christian 
at heart, should be made to feel assured that the Church for its part will 
leave nothing undone to further the victory of social justice. Unless they 
can be persuaded of this, all our efforts to save them from Bolshevism 
will be in vain ; for as Bishop Kubina of Czenstochau says : ‘ social misery 
and unjust oppression of the masses are arguments in favour of Bolshevism 
stronger than any reasons we can bring against it.’ He also cites the 
following sentences from the same Bishop : ‘ Unless we effect the needed 
economic modifications by peaceful means, we may rest assured that 
sooner or later against our will, an overwhelming alteration will be forced 
on us which will establish on earth the kingdom of Satan instead of the 
longed for Kingdom of Christ.’ ” (Cited in the Stimmen der Zei, Feb., 1931, 
PP- 377 . 378 -) 



Introductory Remarks. — The modern anti-Christian move- 
ment, which centres round Liberalism, owes much of its 
rapid progress to the secret society of the Freemasons, who 
are, as it were, the advance guard of the forces of Liberalism. 
Leo XIII describes the purpose of Freemasonry to be the 

" utter overthrow of the whole religious order of the world which 
Christian teaching has produced, and the substitution of a new 
state of things . . . based on the principles and laws of pure 
Naturalism.” 2 

Freemasonry is to-day the central enemy of the Church 
and of every Catholic government and Catholic institution 
in the world. It is closely associated with modern Judaism 
(including the Rationalistic Jews, as well as those of the 
Talmud and the Cabala) 3 ; and is largely under Jewish 
influence and guidance. In pursuing its ideal of a universal, 
naturalistic Masonic State, Freemasonry aims at, or rather 
tends necessarily towards the destruction of religion, 
morality, family life, and of all national and patriotic ties. 
In the present sketch we can do no more than give the 
outlines of the subject under a few main headings. 

Art. 1 — The Bise and Sjnead of Freemasonry 

The Pagan “ Mysteries.” — The claim that Freemasonry 
is a continuation of certain pre-Christian religious associa- 
tions of Egypt, Palestine, Greece and Rome, is devoid of 

1 Th.e matter of this chapter is mainly a summary ol the writer’s book. 
Freemasonry and the Anti-Christian Movement (Gill, Dublin, 2nd edit., 
1930). The book is referred to in the notes as, “ Cahill, op. cit.” See 
also Poncins, op. cit., also Deschamps — Les SocieUs SecrUes (Paris, 4th 
edit., 1881), and Belliot — Manuel de Sociologie Catholique (Lethielleux, 
Paris, 2nd edit., 1911, pp. 381—391 — an excellent summary). 

2 Humanum Genus. The term Naturalism means the complete re- 
jection and contempt of the supernatural, including faith, grace, and 
the sacraments, and the elimination of all reference to a future life. 

3 Cf. Cahill, op. cit., chap, iv ; also Index, ib., sub verbo “ Jews.’’ 




all historical foundation ; all these associations were founded 
on a religious basis. They presupposed a priesthood of 
some kind, and were essentially connected with the idea of 
theocracy and the privileges of an aristocratic or governing 
class. Freemasonry, on the other hand, implies or aims 
at the elimination of all religious organisation and the 
establishing of a type of human liberty and equality which 
are inconsistent not only with the ordinary arrangement 
of society, but even with the supreme authority of a 
personal God distinct from man himself. Some, however, 
of the tenets and practices of these pagan associations, such 
as the doctrine of Pantheism, the deification of the principle 
of generation and the shameful rites connected with the 
phallic worship, do reappear in certain sections of Free- 
masonry, which may therefore claim, at least to that extent, 
some real connection with pre-Christian doctrines and 

The Templars. — Many writers, Masonic and otherwise, 
associate the origin of Freemasonry with the Order of the 
Templars suppressed in the 14th century, and with some 
other anti-Christian sectaries of earlier periods. Among 
these sects are the Gnostics, the Manicheans, and the 
Albigenses, whose doctrines and ritual the heretical section 
of the Templars were supposed to inherit. The Templars, 
before their suppression in 1308, were accused of heresy, 
the systematic practice of blasphemy and certain other 
abominable and nameless rites. Masonic historians hold 
that the order continued to subsist as a secret society, 
especially in Scotland, after its legal suppression ; and that 
through this secret society the spirit and doctrines of the 
original heretical Templars have been transmitted to modem 
Freemasonry. 1 

The Humanists. — Some again find the definite beginnings 
of the Masonic movement in certain revolutionary and anti- 
Christian secret associations which sprang up in the 15tli 
century under the influence of the pagan Humanism, 
resulting from the so-called Renaissance. 2 

1 Cf. Deschamps, op. cit., p. 300 ; also Cahill, op. cit., in Index, sub 
verbo “ Templars.” Any historical connection of Freemasonry with the 
Templars has not been, and probably cannot be, proved. 

2 Cf. Belliot, op. cit., pp. 371 ff ; also Deschamps, op. cit., vol. i, 
pp. 318-28. 



English Origin. — England, however, was the real cradle 
and nursing ground of modem Freemasonry. The history 
of the early developments of English Freemasonry, of its 
connection with the revolutionary and occultist forces on 
the one hand and with the old guilds of operative masons on 
the other, is obscure. The main facts, however, are as follows : 
The framework as well as the name of the new society 
were adopted from the old guilds of operative masons which, 
after the Protestant Revolt, had lost their Catholic character. 
Some of these, and especially the great London Masons’ 
Guild, gradually dropped their professional character and 
received into their body members who had no connection 
with the building craft. Among these non -professional 
members received into the London guild in the 17th century 
were Jews, Deists and Freethinkers, under whose influence 
strong anti-Christian elements got embedded into what was 
originally an exclusively Christian body. 1 

Masonic Constitutions. — Early in the 18th century (Masonic 
historians usually fix the date at 1717, when the first Grand 
Master of the English Lodges was appointed) the Freemason 
Society dropped completely its professional character, and 
formally assumed the role of a philosophic and religious 
(or anti-religious) association, with a definitely propagandist 
purpose. About five years later James Anderson, a Scotch 
Presbyterian minister, assisted by John T. Desaguliers, a 
Huguenot refugee who also became a minister, drew up the 
constitutions and ritual which remain to this day the ground- 
work of the Masonic organisation all over the world. 

Anderson’s constitutions retain a portion of the frame- 
work of the old operative Freemason guilds, such as the 
grades of Apprentice, Associate (or Companion) and Master, 
while adapting them to the exigencies of the new society. 
But the soul and spirit of the old Catholic constitutions were 
so fundamentally altered that in their new form they ceased 
to be Christian or even Theistic. 2 God and Christ, to 

1 Of. Cahill, op. tit., pp. 1-6 II ; also Deschamps, op. cit., pp. 281 ff. 

2 The usual distinction between Deists and Theists is, that the latter 
acknowledge a supreme personal God, distinct from the created universe, 
though they may deny the mysteries of the Holy Trinity and the Incar- 
nation ; while the so-called God of the Deists may be merely some force 
of nature, or attribute of matter, or something which they describe as 
the soul of the world, or which Freemasons term the " Grand Architect 
of the Universe.” 



whom the old Catholic masons promised service and loyaltj', 
were replaced by the vague and intangible being who is 
called “ The Grand Architect of the Universe .” 1 

For the old Catholic charge made to the working-mason, 
“ Be true to God and Holy Church and use no error or 
heresy,” Anderson substituted a rule which implies 
naturalism and religious indifference. According to this 
rule the Freemasons were obliged only to follow the religion 
in which all men agree, leaving the particular opinion to them- 
selves, that is, to be good men and true, or men of Honour 
and Honesty, by whatever denominations or persuasions they 
may be distinguished . . . being as Masons only of the 
Catholic religion above mentioned. In other words, the 
Catholicity and religion of the old Mason’s guilds is sup- 
planted by a new Catholicity which is some kind of vague 
Deism or naturalism, and embraces in one universal religion 
the cult of pagan, Mahommedan, Buddhist, etc. 

Again, the old charge of the Catholic guild to its members 
regarding loyalty to their country, is radically altered in 
Anderson’s constitutions. The old charge was : “ You 

shall be good liege men of the King without treason or 
falsehood ; and you shall come to know no treason, but 
you shall mend if you may, or else warn the King or his 
council thereof.” Anderson’s text reads : 

“ If a Brother should be a Rebel against the State, he is not 
to be countenanced in his rebellion, however he may be pitied 
as an unhappy man ; and if convicted of no other crime . . . they 
[the Brethren] cannot expel him from the Lodge, and his re- 
lations to it remain indefeasible.” 

The reason given by Anderson for this alteration is that 
Freemasonry is cosmopolitan, and transcends all national 
distinctions : 

“ We are resolved against all politicks ; we, being only as 
Masons of the Catholick religion ... we are also of all Nations, 
Tongues, Kindreds and Languages .” 2 

These two fundamental characteristics of Freemasonry, 

1 The Masonic Deity (the " Grand Architect of the Universe ") is not 
necessarily a personal God much less the true God of the Christian religion, 
Cf. Cahill, op. cit., chaps, ii and iii and passim. (See Index, ib., sub verbo 

2 Cf. Ib., pp. 62, 63 ; also Cath. Encycl., vol. ix, pp. 777, 778. 



namely, indifference in matters of religion, which means 
absence of all real religion, and a tendency towards cosmo- 
politanism and a false and exaggerated internationalism 
rema n to this day, outstanding features of the Masonic 
spirit even in its least disruptive manifestations. 

Freemasonry in Ireland. — Speculative Masonry thus 
organised spread rapidly in England and Scotland, and 
within a few years after its foundation was introduced among 
the English colony in Ireland. The sect took strong root 
among the latter. Indeed, down to the present day, Free- 
masonry and Orangeism (an off-shoot of Masonry, and con- 
trolled by it), 1 which was founded in 1795 dominate the 
inner councils of the Protestant and pro-British party in 
Ireland. How much this party and the British Government 
relied and still rely on Freemasonry and Orangeism for their 
hold on the country is well known ; and may be illustrated 
by numerous significant facts. Thus the oath prescribed 
by law to be taken by the Royal Irish Constabulary and 
Dublin Metropolitan Police excluded them from all political 
organisations or secret societies, “ unless the Societies of 
Freemasons.” In the two Home Rule Acts for Ireland, 
those of 1914 and 1920, the Irish Parliaments were 
definitely precluded from any power to “ abrogate or pre- 
judicially affect any privilege or exemption of the Grand Lodge 
of Freemasons in Ireland, or any lodge or society recognised 
by the Grand Lodge .” 2 Again, that the “ Curragh mutiny ” 
and “ Ulster rebellion ” of 1912-13, as well as the Belfast 

1 The constitution, ritual, and oaths of secrecy, of the Orange society 
are almost identical with those of Freemasonry. The objects of the two 
are substantially the same except that Orangeism is regional. The Orange 
leaders are, of course. Masons. For a detailed account of Orangeism, 
cf. The Orange Society, by Rev. H. W. Cleary (afterwards Bishop of 
Auckland, New Zealand), 7th edit., 1899 (C. T. Society, London, 1899). 
A Masonic handbook entitled Ahiman Rezon, published in Belfast 1804, 
is dedicated by the author, L. Dermott (the well known Masonic organiser 
of the time), to the Masters and Brethren of the Orange Lodge of Belfast, 
who had, he says, reorganised Freemasonry over all the Province of 
Ulster (Cf. Ahiman Rezon, Belfast, 1804, pp. vii, viii). 

2 At the present time, according to the current law in the Irish Free 
State, the police and the members of the Free State army, are precluded 
by the oath they have to take, from belonging to secret societies. This 
clause, however, which was inserted to meet the difficulty caused by a 
secret organisation existing within the Free State army, is omitted in the 
oath prescribed for members of the Free State judiciary, by a law passed 




Orange riots and pogroms of 1919-1922 were engineered 
through the medium of the same societies, is also commonly 
believed, not without good foundation. 

Spread of Freemasonry. — During the first half of the 
eighteenth century, Masonic lodges were founded from 
England and from Ireland in France (1721), and in the 
English colonies, as well as in Spain, Holland, Russia, 
Turkey, Germany, Hungary and Poland. Later on, lodges 
were formed in New England (North America), India, China, 
Africa, Central and South America. 

In France, especially, where the ground was prepared by 
the Gallican and Janssenistic movements of the preceding 
generation. Freemasonry spread very rapidly, and gained 
immense influence. The Masonic lodges became the 
meeting-places in which every type of impiety, immorality 
and revolt found a safe refuge, and where all the anti- 
religious and anti-social elements of French society, as well 
as the profligate, religiously indifferent and worldly-minded 
both laymen and ecclesiastics, met on common ground. 
This spirit of revolt soon bore fruit all over Europe and 
America in the anti-religious persecutions, the expulsion 
of the Society of Jesus from various countries, the com- 
plicated intrigues which culminated in the suppression of 
the same Society (forced on the Holy See through Masonic 
influence), and later on, in the excesses connected with the 
French Revolution (1789). 

The Illuminists.— About the middle of the 18th century, 
the irreligious and disruptive elements in Freemasonry 
received a new impetus from the secret societies of the 
German Illuminists and the French Martinists which were 
merged in it. The unchristian and anarchical ideals of these 
societies had come into Northern Germany from England 
and France early in the century, and had spread south into 
the Catholic portions of the country. In 1776 Adam 

about the same time ; and no such stipulation appears in the oath pre- 
scribed for members of the Free State Executive Council, Dail, or Senate. 
Cf. “ The Soldier and the Judge,” by Lex (Irish Rosary, October, 1926). 

For a full account of the legal position of Freemasonry in Ireland under 
the British regime (a position which has not so far been altered even in 
the Irish Free State) cf. a series of articles in the Irish Rosary, April and 
May, 1930, entitled "Freemasonry and the Law,” byM, J, Lennon, B.L. 



Weishaupt, a professor of the University of Ingolstadt, 
became the leading spirit of the movement. The Illuminists 
and the other kindred secret societies were suppressed by 
the Bavarian Government in 1784 ; but their principles and 
methods have continued even to our own day to infiltrate 
through the medium of Freemasonry into European society, 
and to spread more and more into every part of the known 
world. They are in fact practically identical with the 
principles and ideals of Revolutionary Communism, now 
commonly called Bolshevism. 

Masonic Activities for Past Two Centuries. — Freemasonry 
supplies the key, and at least a partial explanation of tho 
extraordinary progress of the spirit of infidelity, irreligion 
and revolt against lawful authority which has characterised 
the history of the European races during the past two 
centuries. The constantly recurring revolutions, political 
upheavals, assassinations, and religious persecutions, which 
loom so large in the modern history of Europe and America 
have been, for the most part, the work of Freemasonry. 
The network of secret societies — irreligious, anarchical, 
and communistic, which now almost cover the face of the 
globe, are practically modelled upon and inspired by Free- 
masonry, and are in large measure controlled by it. 

This is true of the Jacobin excesses of the French Revolu- 
tion of 1789, of the French Revolutions of 1830 and 1848, 
as well as of the revolutions which took place about the 
same time in several countries of Europe. It is equally 
true of the Italian Revolution (1870) with the accompanying 
spoliation of the Papal States ; and of the rising of the Paris 
Commune (1871), in which the fierce anti-Christian spirit 
of the insurgents rivalled that of the Jacobins eighty years 
before. The modem anti-Christian persecution in France 
dating practically from 1870, the Mexican Revolution with 
all its anti-Christian virus, as well as the revolutions and 
anti-Christian movements in Spain itself and the South 
American States ; the Portuguese Revolution of recent times ; 
the Young Turk Movement of the early years of the present 
century with the unspeakable Armenian massacre that 
accompanied it ; all (or at least the fierce anti-Christian 
spirit which all alike display) have had their source and 
inspiration in Masonic teaching and intrigue. All have 



been supported, approved or glozed over where open 
approval was impossible, by the Mason-controlled press of 
Great Britain and U.S.A., as well as by the non-Catholic 
press of the continental countries. The Nihilists of Russia 
(progenitors of the present Bolshevists), the Carbonari of 
Italy, the Orange Society of Ireland and the British Colonies, 
the American Ku Klux Klan, and the six hundred or more 
secret societies of the United States of America, all more or 
less disruptive and anti-Christian, are all offshoots of Free- 
masonry, modelled upon and largely controlled by it. 1 

Varying Masonie Tactics. — In order to understand the 
working of Freemasonry in its varying manifestations, one 
must bear in mind that it is essentially anti-Christian. Its 
activities, revolutionary or otherwise, and the support it 
accords to political and other parties, are only a means to 
an end. Hence it usually exhibits openly its revolutionary 
virus only in Catholic countries or where the government 
and social organisation are more or less under the guidance 
of Christian principles. In non-Catholic states or in a social 
organism which is already largely dechristianised, or where 
the governing powers are mainly under Masonic influence, 
it affects the pose of constitutionalism and loyalty to the 
established government. 

This is the real key to the apparent contrast between the 
Grand Orient Masonry of France, Mexico and Portugal, 
and the Freemasonry of the Anglo-American and Anglo- 
Irish type. The difference is rooted in the varying circum- 
stances of the different countries and the resulting need 
for varying tactics. 

Statistics of Freemasonry. — According to its official 
statistics Freemasonry numbers at present some four and a 
half millions of registered members, besides a million or so 
of “ Negro ” Freemasons in U.S.A. who are not officially 
recognised. Of this four and a half millions only about 
300,000 (or less than one-fourteenth of the whole) belong 
to the so-called Latin or continental sections, while over 
4,000,000 belong to the English-speaking countries. These 

1 Cf. Preuss — A Dictionary of Secret and other Organisations (Herder, 
London, 1924) ; also Stevens — The Encyclopedia of Fraternities (New York, 



latter form the real strength and centre of the Masonic 
organisation. The United States of America have over 
three million registered members ; Great Britain over 
400,000 ; Canada about 200,000, and Ireland over 50,000. 

More than half of the so-called Latin or continental 
section — including the Grand Orients of Italy, Spain and 
Portugal, the Grand Lodges of Greece, Denmark, Holland, 
France, Brazil, and Egypt, as well as the Grand Lodge 
York of Mexico — are in close official relations with Anglo- 
Irish Freemasonry. 

The remaining small section of “ Latin ” Freemasonry 
(including probably over 100,000 members), such as the 
Grand Orient of France and some of the Mexican and South 
American Lodges, are not at present (viz., since 1878) 
officially represented in the London and Dublin Grand 
Lodges owing to certain domestic differences of terminology 
and tactics. All, however, are linked up in the “ World 
Chain of Freemasonry ” through numerous liaison bodies 
such as the Grand Lodge Alpina of Switzerland ; through 
international congresses, etc., and still more by a unity of 
purpose and of spirit. 1 

Strength of Freemasonry in Ireland. — The Freemasons in 
Ireland are practically identified with the imperialist and 
non-Catholic portion of the population. The ostensible 
number of Freemasons in Ireland (about 50,000) although 
very much greater 2 in proportion to the population than 

1 That Freemasonry forms one body the whole world over is in fact 
officially recognised by the Freemasons themselves ; although individual 
Freemasons frequently deny the fact for purposes of controversy. All 
sections, both continental and Anglo-Saxon, are equally enumerated in 
the official Masonic Year Books. Irish, English and American Freemasons 
supply statistics of their members, etc., for publication in the continental 
Calendars. They send their representatives to the international Masonic 
congresses. Even in the Dublin Grand Lodge there are official represen- 
tatives of Portugal, Italy and Spain, and of the Grand Lodges of France, 
Belgium, Mexico and Brazil. Bro. A. Pike, the great prophet and leader 
of Anglo-American Freemasonry of the 19th century, publicly avowed 
that the pretence of diversity between British and Latin Freemasonry 
was futile and could not be maintained. Cf. Cahill, op. oil., chap, ii ; 
also pp. 223, 224 ; also Appendix ii and passim. 

s Some 1,050 Irish Masonic lodges, of which 140 are in Dublin, are 
mentioned in the Irish Freemasons’ Calendar of 1929. It seems probable 
that the vast majority of the whole non-Catholic population of Ireland 
belong directly or indirectly (viz., through husband, father, etc.) to the 
Freemasons’ or Orange Society or both. 



the number of Freemasons in any country of continental 
Europe or South America, is not an adequate measure of 
their effective strength. 

The Masonic party inherit the fruits of the British 
domination. They control very much of the economic 
life of the country, including the banks and railways, 
several of the more important academic and educational 
institutions, such as the Queen’s University, Dublin 
University (or Trinity College) with its allied medical 
schools, and a large section of the Press. Besides, they 
have at command, for the purposes of their anti-Catholic 
and anti-Irish activities, the Orange Society which is 
practically a Masonic body. In addition to all this, it 
may be truly said that in Ireland as elsewhere. Freemasonry 
wields more influence and power through its allied 
associations and organisations than by its own personal 
membership. 1 

Art. 2 — Masonic Aims, Character and Policy 

Masonic Secrecy. One of the first . . . obligations,” writes 
John H. Cowles, ‘ Sovereign Grand Commander ’ of the Southern 
Jurisdiction, U.S.A., of the A. and A. Scottish Rite of Free- 
masonry, “ assumed by every initiate of the Masonic Fraternities 
is that he will in no manner reveal any part of the secrets that 
are imparted. The solemnity of this obligation is impressed upon 
him in explicit detail. . . . The Wisdom of Secrecy in Regard 
to Esoteric Masonry has been long established, is based upon 
sound reasoning, and its value has been proven through the 
many years of the Fraternity’s existence. . . .” 2 

Freemasonry, the child of darkness, is essentially secret. 
Its secrecy does not lie merely in the fact that its membership 
is partly unknown and its counsels and doings kept from 
the knowledge of the public. The essential nature of the 
society itself, its real aims, even its moral and philosophic 
teaching, are all shrouded in mystery. All these are un- 
known even to the vast majority of the members ; and are 
fully communicated only to a select few, belonging to the 

1 See infra, art. 3, " Imperfect Freemasonry ” and “ White Masonry." 

2 The New Age, official organ of the Supreme Council 33° of the Ancient 
and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, July, 1931, p. 388. (The 
italics are not in the original.) 

Freemasonry" and allied societies 53 1 

inner circles, whose mentality and moral outlook are sup- 
posed to be sufficiently attuned to Masonic ideals. For the 
rank and file of the Craft, all these matters are veiled in 
allegory and symbolism whose real significance they do not 
understand, and concerning which they are in fact de- 
liberately misled . 1 By that means immense multitudes 
are induced to lend their names to an institution and to 
promote purposes from which, if they knew the full truth, 
they would recoil with horror. Hence it is that at every 
stage of Masonic initiation, the candidate renews the 
impious oaths of secrecy, and that secrecy is so much 
insisted upon in every portion of the organisation and 
working of the society. 

Nevertheless, a society cannot, any more than a person, 
permanently conceal its real character. Hence, not a few 
enquirers, both Catholic and Protestant, who have made 
a systematic study of Freemasonry from the abundant 
materials that have accumulated during the past two 
centuries, have succeeded in lifting, at least partially, the 
veil that covers it and in laying bare for those who wish to 
learn the real nature of Freemasonry and the framework 
of its secret organisation . 2 Besides, even from the very 
beginning, the Popes, with the unerring vision which the 
guidance of the Holy Spirit confers, saw clearly and de- 
nounced in no doubtful terms the wickedness of Freemasonry 
and its designs against Christ’s Kingdom on earth. 

Essence oi Freemasonry. — Freemasonry is the soul and 
centre of the whole modern anti-Christian movement. It 
is in other words the “ Counter Church.” A modern 
Catholic writer commenting on the well-known words which 
occur in two different letters of Pius IX, where the Pope 
signalises Freemasonry as “ tho Synagogue of Satan,” 
describes the sect as “ a synthesis of all the heresies and the 
rallying point of all the uprisings of man against Cod .” 3 

Freemasonry sets up a code of morals and a principle of 
human virtue and beneficence independent of God ; and 

1 Cahill, op. cit., chap. iii. where the texts bearing on Masonic secrecy 
are quoted. 

2 Cf. Cahill, op. cit., pp. 95 ff. 

3 Gautherot in the Diclionaire Apologetique de la Foi Catholique , vol. ii, 
col. 95. 



while it affects to ignore Our Divine Lord, or where cir- 
cumstances require, pays a homage of lip service to His 
sacred Name, its very essence is opposition to Him and to 
His mission on earth. Underlying the whole Masonic 
system, colouring all its teaching and all its activities and 
ceremonial, there is a steady current of antagonism to 
Christianity. The Church’s ideals are held up to derision ; 
its teaching misrepresented ; its ministers and religious, 
when occasion serves, are calumniated and persecuted. 
Even its most sacred mysteries and rites, such as the 
Incarnation, the Mass and the Sacraments, are fantastically 
and blasphemously caricatured in some of the Masonic 
ceremonial and teaching. 

Immediate Objective of Masonic Policy. — Naturalism and 
Hermeticism or Occultism (including Theosophy, Spiritism, 
Christian Scientism and Satanism) are characteristic of the 
Masonic cult and philosophy. These are put forward as 
a substitute for real religion, and are in fact to-day perhaps 
the most powerful solvent of the elements of true 
Christianity which still survive among the non-Catholic 
communities of the English-speaking world. 

With the object of making the principles of Naturalism 
effective in the lives of the people, Freemasonry everywhere 
strives to de -Christianise as completely as possible the 
educational system and the public life of the State. Hence 
its political and social programme includes : 

I. The banishment of religion from all departments of 
government, and from all public institutions ; and, as a 
mark of the triumph of this policy, the removal of the 
Crucifix and all religious emblems from the legislative 
assemblies, the courts of justice, the public hospitals, the 
schools and university colleges, etc. 

II. The secularisation of marriage, and the introduction 
of divorce facilities. 

III. The establishment of a state system of education 
winch, at least in its primary stages, will be obligatory, 
gratuitous and conducted by the laity. 1 

1 This is the professed object of the Masonic League of Instruction, which 
was established in France in 1866. Cf. Deschamps, op. cit., vol. iii, 
pp. 427 ff ; also Mgr. Jouin — Le P&ril Judaeo-Magonnique, vol. xii (Le 
Loi d’ Enseignment) , pp. 99 IT. 


IV. Complete freedom of worship (at least for all religions 
except the true one). 

V. Unrestrained liberty of the Press even in the propa- 
gation of irreligious doctrines and of principles subversive 
of morality ; similar freedom for the stage, the cinema, and 
for all manner of public activities, even when most injurious 
to the public interest, such as the operation of the betting 
and gambling agencies, and of agencies for debasing amuse- 
ments, the drink traffie, the traffic in drugs and instruments 
of unnatural viee, etc. 

VI. The elimination of all distinction between the sexes 
in education and in all departments of public life, and the 
promotion or encouragement of radical feminism. 

The same programme usually includes or favours a 
constitution or government which is nominally Demo- 
cratic or Republican, but is so organised as to be easily 
dominated by the Masonic press, and the masters of high 
finance ; indiscriminate universal suffrage ; and the cen- 
tralisation of political and administrative authority in the 
hands of a bureaucracy. It is opposed on the other hand 
to the national distinctions which arc associated with the 
Christian virtue of patriotism, to the ideal of strongly 
organised rural communities settled permanently on the 
land ; and finally to the organisation of society in classes 
bound together by ties of common interest and mutual 
service. Hence its policy tends towards commercialism, a 
false internationalism and extreme individualism . 1 

Papal Condemnations. — The Church forbids Catholics 
under pain of excommunication, to be incurred by the very 
act (ipso facto) to enter the Masonic society, or to give it 
any assistance or support. Furthermore, the papal con- 
demnations of Freemasonry are so severe and so sweeping 
in their tenor as to be quite unique in the history of Church 

During the last two centuries Freemasonry has been ex- 
pressly anathematised by at least ten different Popes, and 
condemned directly or indirectly by practically every Pontiff 
who sat on the chair of Peter. The Popes charge the Free- 
masons with occult criminal activities with “ shameful 

1 Cf. Cahil], op. tit., pp. 156 fl. 



deeds ” ; with acting under the direct inspiration of the 
devil, if not actually worshipping Satan himself (a charge 
which is hinted at in some of the papal documents) ; with 
infamy, blasphemy, sacrilege, and the most abominable 
heresies of former times ; with the systematic practice of 
assassination ; with treason against the State ; with anar- 
chical and revolutionary principles and with favouring and 
promoting what is now called Bolshevism ; with corrupting 
and perverting the minds of youth ; with shameful hypocrisy 
and lying, by means of which Freemasons strive to hide 
their wickedness under a cloak of probity and respectability, 
while in reality they are a very “ Synagogue of Satan,” 
whose direct aim is the complete destruction of Christianity, 
and the universal restoration of paganism in a form more 
degraded and unnatural than the world has hitherto kno wn. 

The Popes again and again remind Christian rulers of 
their urgent duty, in the interests of religion and morality, 
and for the sake of the peace and safety of the State, to 
suppress all the secret societies in their dominions. 1 

The Popes do not accuse all individual Freemasons of 
participating actively in the crimes and shameful deeds of 
the Masonic body. But, since all members lend their names 
and at least their moral support to the condemned sect, all 
come under the censures and are held to share its respon- 
sibility and guilt. Thus Pope Pius IX writes : 

“ It is not alone the Masonic body in Europe that is referred 
to [viz., in the Papal condemnations] but also the Masonic 
associations in America and in whatsoever part of the world 
they may be. ” 2 

Hence the whole Order and all sections and divisions of 
Freemasonry are condemned indiscriminately. 

Art. 3 — Masonic Organisation 

Although the main outlines of Masonic organisation are 
fairly well known, very many of the details are still obscure 

1 For a series of citations (in English) from the texts of the Papal pro- 
nouncements on Freemasonry, cf. Cahill, op. tit., chap, vi (pp. 118—135). 
For a more complete and exhaustive series of references and citations from 
the papal documents on Freemasonry, cf. Revue Internationale des Soc. 
Sec. (1929-1930), in a series of articles by Rev. Rom Baucher, O.S.B., 
entitled “ Les Papes et la Franc-Ma^onnerie.” 

2 Etsi Multa, 1873. 



aud doubtful. We touch here only on points that are well 

The Duplicate Personality.— Freemasonry has, so to speak, 
a duplicate personality. There is the outer Freemasonry, 
whose personnel, organisation and activities are more or 
less openly acknowledged. This Freemasonry publishes its 
rituals, holds its festivals, edits its calendars, etc. Besides 
this there is what we may call the inner or esoteric Free- 
masonry, which forms the real centre and soul of the society 
and in which the Jewish influence usually predominates. 

The outer Freemasonry stands ostensibly for toleration, 
liberalism in religion, and humanitarianism. It contains 
multitudes of members who do not know the aims, the 
activities, or even the existence of the inner body. Many of 
the members of the outer circle are wealthy or influential 
men. These serve as useful figureheads who promote the 
prestige of the Masonic body and give it a reputation for 
moderation ; but in reality they exert little influence over 
its activities, and are merely utilised as tools by the inner 
circles. Thus Louis XVI of France, as well as Marie 
Antoinette, belonged, at one time, to the Masonic body, 
which later brought about their execution. So, too, in 
England and Ireland, men like the Duke of Norfolk (1730), 
Lord Coleraine, the Earl of Ripon, the Earl of Inchiquin, 
Lord Byron, many Protestant Bishops, and even members 
of the royal family have held from time to time the highest 
rank in the Masonic body. 

Outer Administrative Organisation. — When a person enters 
the Masonic body he is first of all received into an apprentice 
lodge. When his mind is judged to be sufficiently receptive 
of the Masonic “ light,” he is initiated into a lodge of 
Companion Masons. After a further period of observation 
and trial he will, if judged satisfactory, be promoted and 
initiated into a Master’s lodge. Every Mason can enter 
any lodge of a degree similar or inferior to his own, but is 
strictly excluded from a higher lodge. These three degrees, 
viz., those of Apprentice, Companion and Master, which 
form the lower or Blue Masonry, are the fundamental 
elements of the society. The members of these degrees arc 
the ordinary “ faithful ” of the Masonic counter-church. 



Freemasonry is divided into several groups or federations 
which are administratively independent of one another. 
Most of these groups, while corresponding mainly to one 
country, have affiliated branches (colonial settlements as it 
were) in several other countries. Again, in the same country 
there may exist side by side several independent juris- 
dictions . 1 All the several groups or federations although 
nominally independent, are usually linked up or interlocked 
with one another through the medium ol permanent re- 
presentatives, or liaison bodies or members who hold at the 
same time important positions in two or more independent 

The lodge (which in some groups is called the Chapter 
or the Preceptory) is the fundamental unit in each group. 
It is directed by officers who are elected for one year. These 
have no jurisdiction outside the lodge. The supreme 
governing authority of the group or federation is a kind of 
parliament (or convent or congress ) made up of delegates 
from the lodges. It meets at stated times, usually about 
twice a year. This assembly appoints by election an 
executive council, at the head of which there is a smaller 
council or board, presided over by the Grand Master (in 
some federations called the President and in some again 
the Sovereign Grand Commander). 

From all this it is evident that the outer administration 
or government is organised on a democratic basis. But this 
outer democratic administration, which the majority of the 
rank and file believe to be the real governing authority, has 
in actual fact very little power. Its position and authority 
correspond broadly to the position and authority of the 
nominal government of those modern states which have 
fallen under the baneful influence of Freemasonry. The 
real government of these states is the hidden forces which 
operate behind the scenes and which are mostly identified 
with the great leaders of high finance. 

Secret Organisation of the Degrees and Inner Circles. — 

Of the details of the secret organisation of Freemasonry 

1 Thus there are in France at least two well-known jurisdictions — viz., 
the Federation of the Grand Orient of France and that of the Grand Lodge 
of France. In Ireland there are apparently four. Cf. Cahill, op. oil., 
pp. 138 ff. 



little is known with certainty. The Masonic oaths and the 
dreadful penalties attached to them have proved in practice 
substantially efficacious. One thing is, however, established 
beyond doubt. Between Freemasonry, whose administra- 
tive system we have sketched (and which appears on the 
surface as a philanthropic and mutual aid society), and the 
immense revolutionary and anti-religious part which Free- 
masonry has played and still continues to play in the world, 
there is a striking contrast. The visible organisation of the 
Masonic body, and the results which that body has obtained 
show a manifest disproportion with each other. Again, 
why should a simple philanthropic society, organised in the 
manner just described, exact from all the members the 
terrible oaths of inviolable secrecy, each oath accompanied 
by unspeakable curses and threats against him who should 
violate it ? There is clearly something evil and sinister 
behind the fayade. The following well ascertained facts 
will help to throw light on the matter. 

Superimposed on the outer Freemasonry, with its three 
degrees and its democratic constitution, there is the Free- 
masonry of the higher degrees for which the members are 
carefully selected (not elected) from the ranks of the Blue 
Masonry. The Members of the higher degrees (sometimes 
the existence of the degrees themselves) are frequently un- 
known to the rank and file. These degrees are governed by 
secret Committees, the number on each Committee diminish- 
ing progressively as the higher and inner circles are reached. 
The secret Committees form the real governing body. 

In a lodge meeting of any degree there are always present 
one or more Masons of the higher degrees often unknown 
as such. It is an essential duty of these to inspire the lower 
members with the ideals and principles they have received 
from above and to guide, usually by suggestion and col- 
laboration with one another, the plans and counsels of the 
lower lodges. Thus while the more or less open adminis- 
trative organisation is directed democratically from below, 
the higher and inner groups and committees which are 
appointed not by election but by selection from above, are 
the power that really matters. They can secure that their 
decisions and arrangements pass in an invisible manner 
through the whole Masonic pyramid, so that the activities 


of the whole association are ordered more or less in accord- 
ance with their will . 1 

Imperfect Freemasonry. — What is usually known (among 
non-Masonic writers) as Imperfect Freemasonry, includes 
numerous secret and other societies mostly founded and 
controlled by Freemasons and modelled in large part upon 
the Masonic system. The object of these quasi-Masonic 
societies is partly to reach special classes which Freemasonry 
itself cannot reach and partly to concentrate upon some 
special item or aspect of the Masonic programme. 

Familiar examples of Imperfect Freemasonry are the 
Orange Society, Adoptive Masonry or Co-Masonry (which 
admits women), the American Protective Association (A.P.A.), 
the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, the Loyal Order of 
Buffaloes, the Loyal Order of Moose of the World, the Inter- 
national Socialist Organisations {V Internationale), the Theo- 
sophical Association, some of the Feminist associations, the 
Leagtie of Instruction, etc . 2 These associations form in fact 
the real strength and the active fighting army of Free- 
masonry, which is truly said to have its most numerous 
and efficient supporters outside its own body. 

White Masonry.— Another type of Imperfect Freemasonry 
is what is sometimes called White Masonry. The term is 
applied (again by non-Masonic writers) to the numerous 
associations which have sprung up in modern times (and 
still continue to multiply) ostensibly for the promotion of 
objects good in themselves, or at least not unlawful, but 
which, owing to their character or practical tendencies, arc 
utilised to promote Masonic ideals, such as secularism, 
indifferentism in religion, and false internationalism. Among 
such associations may be mentioned The Rotary Inter- 
national, the Esperanto Association, the Friends of Israel, 
many associations of Journalists, Doctors, Jurists, etc., 
which are organised by Freemasons for the Masonic inter- 
penetration of Christian society . 3 

1 Cf. Cahill, op. tit., chap, vii ; also De Poncins, op. cit., pp. 23 ff, 

2 Cf. ib., pp. 147-149, and Appendix iii. 

3 Cf. ib., pp. 149-151, and Appendix jv. 



Art. 4 — Masonic Methods and Means 

Leo XIII on Masonic Methods. — Freemasonry strives to 
re-fashion the civil and social life of the people after its 
own naturalistic ideals. It utilises men’s passions to under- 
mine Christian social customs. Of the activities of Free- 
masonry in this regard Leo XIII writes : 

“ The Freemasons deny that our first parents sinned, and 
consequently that man’s free-will is in any way weakened or 
inclined to evil. . . . Wherefore we see that men are publicly 
tempted by the many allurements of pleasure ; that there are 
journals and pamphlets without moderation or shame ; that 
stage plays are remarkable for licence ; that designs for works of 
art are shamelessly sought in the laws of a so-called realism . . . 
and that all the blandishments of pleasure are diligently sought 
out by which virtue may be lulled to sleep. . . . There have 
even been in the sect of Freemasons some who have . . . pro- 
posed artfully and of set purpose that the multitude should 
be satiated with a boundless licence of vice ; as when this had 
been done it would come more easily under their power and 
authority.” 1 

In pursuance of its purpose Freemasonry strives above 
all to influence the legislation and administration of the 
State, so as to make the latter subservient to its will. On 
this again Leo XIII writes : 

“ Including almost every nation in its immense grasp it 
[Freemasonry] unites itself with other sects of which it is the 
real inspiration and the hidden motive power. It first attracts 
and then retains its associates by the bait of worldly advantage 
which it secures for them. It bends governments to its will 
sometimes by promises, sometimes by threats. It has found 
its way into every class of society, and forms an invisible and 
irresponsible power, an independent government, as it were, 
within the body corporate of the lawful state. . . , 2 

The Master Weapons of Freemasonry. — The most potent 
instruments used by the Masonic body in compassing its 
ends are financial control, the Press and Cinema, and the 
revolutionary movements. 

We have already referred, when treating of Capitalism, 
to the usurped power exercised at present by the great 
masters of finance over almost the whole life of the people. 

1 Humanum Genus (Cf. Cahill, op. cit ., p. 129). 

1 Parvenu a Vingt-Cinqui£me , 1902 (Cf. Cahill, op. cit., p. 160) , 



It is generally recognised that the financial magnates are 
in great part Masonic Jews ; and that very much of the 
general demoralisation of social life is traceable to the 
baneful influence of the monied interest . 1 

We have also touched already on the intimate connection 
which is strongly emphasised by Leo XIII between Free- 
masonry and Socialism, especially in its revolutionary 
aspects. The recent rise of Bolshevism, in which Masonic 
Jews have had a predominant part, represents the ripened 
fruit of the revolutionary and anarchical movements inspired 
and fostered by Freemasonry, which have kept portions 
of Europe and America in spasmodic turmoil during the 
past century and a half. 

The Press and Cinema. — It remains to refer briefly to the 
Press and Cinema as instruments of Masonic propaganda. 
From several Masonic documents it appears that the leaders 
of the anti-Christian movement rely very much on the 
public Press as one of their most effective instruments. 
The great capitalistic Press of the United States, England, 
Germany and France, is now almost entirely controlled by 
the great Jewish International financiers. Of the papers 
not directly owned by Jews, Jewish influence usually pre- 
dominates in the management. In such cases the editor 
or art critics or principal foreign correspondents, or all of 
these, usually are Jews. 

Apart from the direct control or ownership of the Press, 
exercised by Jewish syndicates or individuals ; and apart 
also from the Jews who take a leading part in the actual 
work of journalism, it is a recognised fact that practically 
the whole secular Press of Britain and America is effectually 
dominated through the medium of the advertising pages 
by the great financial and trading interests which Jews 
largely control. Not only what is called the Capitalistic 
Press, but even the Socialistic Press of the world, is in large 
part owned and controlled by Jewish financiers . 2 

Again, the great news agencies of the world, such as those 
of Reuter and of Wolff, which are the leading British and 

1 For an interesting example of the dominant influence of Jewish finance 
in the political life of the 19th century, cf. Count Corti — Reign of the House 
of Rothschild (Pollancz, London, 1928). 

2 Cf. Cahill, op. cit. (See Index, sub verbo, Press and F 



Gorman news agencies, as well as that of Havas, the prin- 
cipal French agency, are owned or controlled by Jews. 
Besides these news agencies, the recently founded J.T.A. 
(Jev/ish Telegraphic Agency) supplies news items gratis to 
most of the big dailies. Even Catholic journalists or editors, 
tend to accept uncritically the news circulated from these 
sources, although such news is often misleading and too 
frequently insidiously hostile to Christianity. 

Without holding that all the Jewish newspaper owners or 
journalists are Masonic, one is forced to the conclusion, 
especially in view of the consistent and insidious propaganda 
against Christian ideals and Catholic interests which 
characterises the Jew-controlled Press, that tins Jewish 
control is, broadly speaking, exercised in the interests of 
naturalism, and, on the whole, is definitely anti-Catholic 
and Masonic. 

What is said here of the Press applies with equal or greater 
force to the Cinema ; practically all of which over the two 
continents of Europe and America is in the hands of the 
Jews . 1 

Methods Adopted. — We are familiar with the methods 
employed by the Press and the Cinema of permeating the 
body politic with unchristian or anti-Christian principles 
and ideals. The dose administered on each occasion is 
usually tempered to suit the actual dispositions of the 
readers or the audience, while insensibly preparing the mind 
and character for something stronger. Little by little, the 
public mind gets accustomed to scenes and views of life, 
which a few years previously would shock and produce re- 
action. In this way public opinion is gradually demoralised 
and weaned from the old Christian tradition and outlook ; 
and after a certaiu time public life becomes practically 
dechristianised . 2 

1 Cf. Rev. Internal, des Soc. Secretes, December 16th, 1928, p. 1169, for 
a complete list of the great firms (all controlled by Jews) which supply 
most of the film and cinema markets of the English-speaking world. 

2 Cf . Cahill, op. cit., pp. 167 ft. 




Meaning of the Term. — In the chapters on Protestantism, 
Liberalism, Capitalism and Freemasonry, we have sketched 
briefly the genesis of the social system which now prevails 
in the countries of the British Empire, in the United States 
of America and, to a certain extent, in every country of 
the European Civilisation. We have also touched here and 
there, and especially in the chapters on Political Liberalism 
and Capitalism, upon the main evils which are inherent in 
that system, and the moral and material degradation to 
which it inevitably leads. These evils and the social 
problems to which they have given rise constitute what is 
commonly termed the Social Question. 

Genesis of the Social Question. — Leo XIII and the suc- 
ceeding Pontiffs repeatedly insist that the main social evils 
of modem times are due to the revolt of the nations against 
the authority of the Church ; and the abandonment of 
Christian principles in men’s mutual dealings and in the 
general organisation of society. In the first year of his 
pontificate, Leo XIII, dealing with the evils affecting 
modern society, referred especially to 

“ the widespread perversion of the primary truths on which, as 
on its foundations, human society is based, the obstinacy of mind 
that will not brook any authority however lawful, the endless 
sources of disagreement whence arise civil strife and ruthless 
war and bloodshed ; the contempt of law .... the insatiable 
craving for things perishable with complete forgetfulness of 
things eternal .... the reckless mismanagement, waste and 
misappropriation of the public funds, the shamelessness of those 
who, full of treachery, make semblance of being champions of 
country, of freedom and of every kind of right. . . .” 

1 Cf. Leo XIII — Inscrutabili, 1878 ; Rerum Novarum , 1891 ; Graves de 
Gommuni, 1901 ; Pius XI — Ubi Arcano, 1922; Antoine, op. cit., 2 e section, 
chap, vii ; Belliot, op. cit., pp. 172-190, 219-230, 442-475 Parkinson- — 
Primer of Social Science, Introduction i, ii and iii ; Garriguct — Question 
Sociale et Ecoles Sociales (Bloud and Gay, Paris). 




“ The enemies of public order,” the Pope goes on to say, 
“ have thought nothing better suited to destroy the foundations 
of society than to make an unflagging attack upon the Church 
of God, to bring her into discredit and odium by spreading 
infamous calumnies, and accusing her of being opposed to 
genuine progress. . . . From these causes have originated laws 
that shake the structure of the Catholic Church, the enacting of 
which we have to deplore in so many lands : hence, too, have 
flowed forth contempt of episcopal authority .... the dis- 
solution of religious bodies ; and the confiscation of property 
that was once the support of the Church’s ministers, and of the 
poor. . . . Thence, also, have arisen that unchecked freedom 
to teach and spread abroad all mischievous principles, while the 
Church’s claim to train and educate youth is in every way 
outraged and baffled.” 1 

That these words, penned more than fifty years ago, remain 
true to-day may be seen from the example of such countries 
as Portugal, Mexico, Russia and Spain ; for the enemies of 
the Church and of social order work on a consistent plan, 
which is always substantially the same. 

Economic Evils — (a) Words of Leo XIII. — Thirteen 
years later the same Pontiff, in his great encyclical on the 
Condition of the Working Classes, sketches the material 
evils affecting them in a masterly passage which has come 
to be regarded as the classical description of the Social 
Question in its economic aspects. The Pope associates 
these evils and the growing perils which they include with the 

“ vast expansion of industrial pursuits and the marvellous dis- 
coveries of science . . . the changed relations between masters 
and workmen . . . the enormous fortunes of some few in- 
dividuals, and the utter poverty of the masses, and finally the 
degeneracy of morals which characterises all classes. ...” 

“ All agree,” the Pontiff continues, “ and there can be no 
question whatever that some remedy must be found and found 
quickly for the misery and wretchedness, pressing so heavily 
and unjustly at this moment on the vast majority of the working 
classes. For when the ancient workingmen’s guilds were 
abolished ... no other organisation for the workers’ protection 
took their place, public institutions and the very laws having 
set aside the ancient religion. Hence, by degrees it has come to 

1 Inscrutabili (1878), pp. 1, 2. 



pass that the working men have been surrendered all isolated 
and helpless to the hard-heartedness of employers and the greed 
of unchecked competition. 

“ The evil has been increased by rapacious usury, which 
although more than once condemned by the Church, is neverthe- 
less under a different guise but with the same injustice still 
practised by covetous and grasping men. 

“ To this must be added the custom of working by contract, 
and the concentration of nearly all branches of trade under the 
control of a few individuals, with the result that a small number 
of very wealthy men have been able to lay upon the teeming 
masses of the labouring poor a yoke little better than that of 
slavery. 1 

(6) Rooted in Unchristian Capitalism. — In the chapter on 
Modern Capitalism we have already discussed the main 
evils here referred to and others closely connected with them. 
The two outstanding economic evils of the present day are : 

I. The prevalence of an unpropertied class (constituting 
in some cases nearly one half of the population more or less 
helpless and oppressed. These, while personally free and 
nominally enjoying the franchise are, owing to their want 
of productive property, without security or any real in- 
dependence, and are liable to unemployment and consequent 
distress even in regard to the prime necessaries of life. 

II. The dominance of an irresponsible monied interest 
represented by the masters of h gh finance, who in very 
many countries have practically usurped the control of 
industry and even of agriculture. The latter evil has been 
so much intensified since the great European war, that it 
may be regarded to-day as the great fact which underlies 
the whole social question at least in its economic aspects. 
For, in the financial system that has come to prevail, 
employers as well as workers are exposed to the “ rapacious 
usury ” (in its new guise) and the slavery imposed on the 
world by “ the small number of wealthy men ” who control 
international finance. 

The Political Evils. — Our present Pontiff Pius XI, in his 
great Encyclical on the Peace of Christ, issued during the 
first year of his pontificate, insists mainly on those aspects 

1 Rerum Novarum, 1891, pp. 133, 134. See also the Latin original with 
French translation in the series Lettres Apostotiques de Leon XIII, tom. iii, 
pp. 18-21 (issued by La Bonne Presse, 5 Rue Bayard, Paris, viii e ). 



of the social question which have become especially marked 
since the European war. He speaks of the rivalries and 
jealousies between states : 

" sometimes hidden under the manipulation of politics or con- 
cealed beneath the fluctuation of finance ” and the “ dense fog 
of mutual hatreds and grievances ” by which “ public life is so 
enveloped . . . that it is almost impossible for the common 
people even to breathe freely.” He alludes to the “ state of 
armed peace which is hardly better than war itself, and which 
tends to exhaust national finances, to waste the flower of youth 
and to muddy and poison the very foundation of life, physical, 
intellectual, religious and moral.” 1 

Another element to which he refers is the contests between 
political parties : 

" Many of which do not originate in a real difference of opinion 
concerning the public good, or in a quest for what should best 
promote the common welfare, but in the desire for power or for 
the protection of some private interest, which inevitably results 
in injuring the citizens as a whole.” 2 

The Class War. — Leo XIII treating of the advantages to 
society of a multiplication of small proprietors writes : 

" For the result of civil change and revolution has been to 
divide Society into two widely differing castes. On the one 
side there is the party which holds power because it holds 
wealth. . . . On the other side there is the needy and powerless 
multitudes, sick and sore in spirit and ever ready for dis- 
turbance .” 3 

One of the worst results of these unjust conditions which 
are being exploited for purposes of violent and radical 
upheavals is the modern class war, preached and promoted 
by the Socialists. Pius XI refers to it as 
“ the chronic and mortal disease of present day society, which 
like a cancer is eating away the vital forces of the social fabric : 
labour, industry, the arts, commerce, agriculture — everything 
in fact which contributes to public and private welfare. 

“ From this class war there result frequent interruptions of 
work . . . revolutions, riots, and forcible repression of one side 
or other by the Government, all of which cannot but end in 
general discontent and in grave damage to the general welfare.” 4 

1 Ubi Arcano, 1922. Cf. Ryan, Encyclicals of Pius XI (Herder, London, 
1928), pp. 10, 11. 

2 lb, 3 Rerum Novaruni, pp. 158, 159. 

1 Ubi Arcano, 1922. Ib. 



The Moral and Domestic Evils. — Finally, Pius XI bewails 
above all the evils which now threaten the peace, integrity 
and purity of family life — the dissensions, disobedience and 
looseness of morals, resulting often in infidelity to the 
sanctity of the marriage tie. He laments, too, the 

“ morbid restlessness which has spread among people of every 
age and condition of life ; the general spirit of insubordination 
and unwillingness to live up to one’s obligations, which has 
become so widespread as almost to seem the customary mode of 
living . . . the destruction of purity among women and young 
girls which is evidenced by the increasing immodesty in their 
dress and conversation, and by their participation in shameful 
dances .” 1 

Besides these moral evils the Pope refers in another 
Encyclical to other evils which are rooted more directly in 
the prevailing economic regime : 

“ The mind shudders,” he writes, “ if we consider the frightful 
perils to which the morals of workers (of boys and young men 
particularly), and the virtue of girls and women are exposed in 
modern factories ; if we recall how the present economic regime, 
and above all, the disgraceful housing conditions prove obstacles 
to the family tie and the family life : if we remember the in- 
superable difficulties placed in the way of a proper observance 
of the holy days. . . .” 2 

Urbanism. — Another evil more or less peculiar to modern 
times is what is termed Urbanism. The rural population 
seeking for excitement and change tend to abandon the 
land and crowd into the cities. On the other hand, it is a 
fact of experience that an urban population is short lived . 3 
It is only the rural families that survive and maintain the 
race. If these fail the nation is doomed. Besides, the land 
is the ultimate source of all the nation’s wealth, and of 
everything that the people need for the support of life. 
Hence the only stable prosperity of a nation is the one that 
rests on agriculture . 4 The following extract from a remark- 

1 See Shove, op. cit., chaps, i to iv, where this principle is elaborated 
with remarkable clearness. 

2 lb. 3 Quadragesimo Anno (1931), pp. 61, 62. 

* It is well known that families living in towns soon die away, seldom 

reaching the fourth generation, and very frequently die out much sooner. 



able article written by Mussolini (the Italian Premier) 
illustrates this : 

“ . . . At a given moment the city shows a marvellous increase 
due not to its own vital force but to accretion from outside. 
But the more the city increases the more sterile its people become, 
the progressive rate of sterility being in direct proportion to its 
rapid growth. While the metropolis attracts to itself the rural 
population, these latter also lose their fecundity and become 
as sterile as the city population in which they are merged. . . . 
And when the country is deserted the city itself is near its 
doom. . . . 

“ This is the oft -repeated process recorded in history of the 
decay of nations. . . . The whole European race can become 
submerged, and be supplanted by the coloured races, 1 whose 
numbers are multiplying at a rate quite unknown to our 
people.” ... 2 

Declining Birth-Rate. — Closely connected with the pre- 
ceding is another ominous indication of the general 
corruption prevailing in European and American society. 
This is the swift decline of the birth-rate in Middle and 
Western Europe, and Anglo- America. 

In England and Wales, the decline which has been going 
on since 1875 has attained unprecedented rapidity since 
1920. The birth-rate for 1927 was only 16.6 per 1,000 
inhabitants, which is the lowest record of the world, and 
the decline still goes on. In some districts of Great Britain 
the birth-rate has actually fallen to .10 per 1,000 ! In 
France, where the birth-rate has fallen to 18.2 per 1,000 
inhabitants, the population is kept up only by immigration 
from Italy and other countries. At present two and a half 
millions, or about six per cent, of the whole French 
population, are immigrants. Large numbers of these have 
been settled on the land as peasant proprietors. The birth- 

1 It has been calculated, that the population of Japan (which in 1892 
was about 40,000,000) will have reached 100,000,000 in i960 at its present 
rate of increase. 

“Mussolini's article was published in the Fascist monthly review, 
Gerarchia (Oct., 1928), and reprinted (Nov. 10th, 1928) in La Documen- 
tation Catholique (a Catholic weekly published at “ Maison de la Bonne 
Presse,” 5 Rue Bayard, Paris). The article is founded upon a booklet 
by the German writer, Dr. R. Korherr, entitled Failure of the Birth-Rate — 
Death of the Nations, which has been re-edited in Italian and published by 
La Libieria de Littorio, 52 Piazzo Montecitoria, Rome. 



rate in Germany is now even lower than that of France. 
In Belgium, too, the birth-rate is declining, and the rate 
of decline is becoming progressively more and more rapid. 
In Switzerland the birth-rate, which in 1901 was 29 per 
1,000 inhabitants, had fallen in 1926 to 18.2, being then the 
same as in France. 

Even in Italy itself, which up till lately w r as remarkable 
for the fecundity of the people, the birth-rate is declining 
fast. . . . The rate which during the years 1881-1885 was 
38 per 1,000 inhabitants had declined in 1915 to 30.5, and 
in the year 1927 to 26.9. 

This general movement of decline seems to be accelerated 
year by year. Europe is fast approaching the tragic stage 
at which the cradles are empty and the cemeteries grow 
larger. In other words, the European races, as a result of 
their abandonment of Christianity, are hastening to 

The Ruinous Results Actual and Threatened. — Pius XI, 
after bewailing the general corruption of the present day, 
goes on to detail its results on social life and the still worse 
evils which are to be feared : 

" Is it surprising then,” the Holy Father continues, " that we 
should no longer possess that security of life in which we can 
place our trust and that there remains only a most terrible un- 
certainty ; and from hour to hour added fears for the future ? 
Instead of regular daily work there is idleness and unemploy- 
ment. ... As a consequence industry suffers, commerce is 
crippled, the cultivation of literature and the arts becomes more 
and more difficult ; and, what is worse than all, Christian 
civilisation itself is irreparably damaged. In the face of our 
much-praised progress we behold with sorrow society lapsing 
back into a state of barbarism.” 1 

1 lb., pp. 10-14. F° r a sketch of social question in Ireland and its 
genesis, cf. Appendices ii and iii. 



Art. 1 — Its Nature 

A Reaction Against Anti-Christian Forces. — In the earliei 
chapters of the present work we have given a short sketch 
of the Church’s action up to the 16th century in building 
up the fabric of European civilization. As already shown, 
the decay of that civilization, which is so marked a feature 
of European society to-day, began with the Protestant 
revolt in the first half of the 16th century. Rationalism, 
political and economic Liberalism, Freemasonry, unchristian 
Capitalism and Socialism, which are now undermining the 
foundations of the old Christian organisation of Europe, are 
the natural consequences of that revolt. The modem 
Catholic social movement, which began about the middle of 

1 Cf. La Hierarchie Catholique et la Problems Social , compiled by the 
Malines ” Union Internationale D’Etudcs Sociales " in 1931, and pub- 
lished by the “ Edition Spcs ” of Paris. This invaluable work, issued on 
the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the Rerum, Novarum, is a 
bibliography and summary (specially referred to by Pius XI in the Quadra- 
gesimo Anno ) of Pontifical and Episcopal pronouncements on the Social 
Question made beteen the years 1891 and 1931. Cf. also Leo XIII, Rerum 
Novarum (1891), pp. 147-166 ; Graves de Communi (1901), pp. 169 £[ ; 
Pius X, Fin Dalla Prima (1903), pp. 182 II, and II Fermo Proposito 
(" Christian Social Action ") (1905), pp. 189-201 ; Pius XI — Ubi Arcano 
{1922) (see Ryan — Encyclicals of Pius XI, pp. 2 if. Herder, London, 1927), 
and Quas Primas (1925), instituting the Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ 
the King ( see lb., pp. 129 ft); Quadragesimo Anno (1931) (The Social Order : 
Its Reconstruction and Perfection. See C. T. S. pamphlet, London, 1931) ; 
Quce Nobis (Nov. 13th, 1928), Apostolic Letter to Cardinal Bertram on the 
Fundamental Principles of Catholic Action (cf. the Irish Ecclesiastical 
Record, Feh., 1929, pp. 212 ff) ; Plater, S.J. — The Priest and Social Action 
(Longmans, London, 1914), pp. 1-150, and Social Work in Germany (Sands, 
London, 1909) ; Ryan and Husslein — The Church and Labour (Harding 
and Moore, London, 1920) (see pp. 207-219 for a reprint of the Pastoral 
Letter of the Irish Bishops on the Labour Question, Feb., 1914) ; Antoine, 
op. cit., chap, x ; Nitti — Catholic Socialism (translated from the Italian, 
11 Socialismo Catholica, Turin, 1890) (Macmillan, New York, 1895), chaps, 
vii-xii (Nitti uses the word Socialism in a sense now obsolete, as including 
Catholic social reform. He traces the Catholic movement up to 1890) ; 
Metlake — Keltcler’s Social Reform (Dolphin Press, Philadelphia, 1912) ; 
Moon — The Labour Problem and the Social Catholic Movement in France 
(Macmillan, New York, 1921) ; McEntce — The Social Catholic Movement 
in Great Britain (Macmillan, New York, 1927) ; Crawford — Switzerland 
To-day — a Study in Social Progress (Sands, London, undated, circa 1913) ; 
Monti — International Handbook of Catholic Organisations , published in the 
five principal European languages by the International Office of Catholic 
Organisations, Rome (“ Edition Spes,” Paris, 1924), chaps, ii to vij. 




the last century, represents the vital reaction of Christianity 
against these principles and tendencies. It aims at repairing 
or reconstructing Christian civilization where it has been 
injured or destroyed. 

Such a movement is not a new phenomenon in the life 
of the Church. The Catholic faith is a living force, which 
tends to affect profoundly, and even to transform the 
character of the individual or the society that has adopted 
it. Hence Catholic Action, of which a Catholic social 
movement is the result, or rather the embodiment, is as 
old as the Church itself. It is in fact the main source of 
all that is best in European civilization. 

“ The Church,” writes Pius X, “ while preaching Jesus cruci- 
fied . . . has been the first inspirer and promoter of civilization. 
She has spread it wherever her apostles have preached, preserving 
and perfecting what was good in ancient pagan civilizations ; 
rescuing from barbarism and raising to a form of civilized society 
the new peoples who took refuge in her maternal bosom [viz., 
the Teutonic invaders of the period between the fourth and sixth 
centuries A.D.], and giving to the whole of human society, little 
by little, no doubt, but w’ith a sure and onward march, that 
characteristic stamp which it still everywhere preserves . 1 

Scope and Aims. — The movement, although inspired by 
religion, and carried on under the immediate guidance of the 
Pope and the Catholic hierarchy, is not confined to the 
religious and moral interests of the people. Besides these 
it includes in its scope all that may affect their social, in- 
tellectual and material well-being ; and it seeks to promote 
these by means which are in harmony with Catholic 
tradition, and the moral and dogmatic principles of 

“ No practical solution,” writes Leo XIII, “ of this question 
[viz., the modern social question] will be found apart from the 
intervention of religion and the Church. . . . The Church 
improves and betters the condition of the workingman by means 
of numerous organizations ; she does her best to enlist the 
services of all classes in discussing and endeavouring to further 
in the most practical way the interests of the working classes ; 
and considers that for this purpose recourse should be had in due 
degree to the intervention of the law, and of State authorities.” 2 

1 II Fermo Proposiio (1905), p. 190. Cf. also Leo XIII — Immortale Dei 
(1885), p. 54. 

2 Rerum Novarum, pp. 141-148. 



Hence the immediate objects of the movement are : 

I. To disseminate among the masses of the people a better 
knowledge of Catholic social principles and ideals. 

II. To reorganize the public life of the nation in accord- 
ance with Catholic standards, and 

III. To counteract by suitable measures, in harmony 
with the teachings of the Church, the poverty, insecurity 
and material misery of the labouring population. 

Essential Characteristics 1 — (a) Active Participation of the 
Laity. — A special characteristic of the movement is the 
active co-operation of the laity (of both sexes), under the 
guidance of the Bishops, in the social activities of the Church. 
This trait is in largo part an outcome of the Church’s tra- 
ditional policy of accommodating her methods as far as 
possible to the customs and ideals of the society in which 
she is operating. In contrast with the civic organization 
of mediaeval times, when the political power was mostly in 
the hands of one class, the mass of the people now take an 
active part in the duties of legislation and administration. 
Hence the Church, adapting herself to this democratic 
tendency, invites, and indeed urges, the laity of all classes, 
and of both sexes, to take an active part in the work of 
building up again the shattered fabric of Christian civilization. 

“ Catholic action,” writes Pius XI, “ does not merely consist 
in each one striving after one’s own Christian perfection, although 
this, it is true, is everyone’s primary and principal duty, but it 
means a very real apostolate, in which Catholics of every rank 
and order take part. In this work the outlook and activities 
of each and all are linked up with and borrow their character 
from certain central institutions duly constituted with episcopal 
sanction, which supply the guiding principles, and direct and 
co-ordinate the varied activities .” 2 

Further down in the same letter occurs the well-known 
phrase in which Catholic Action is authoritatively defined 
as “ the participation and collaboration of the laity with 
the Apostolic Hierarchy.” 

1 Cf. A useful booklet — L’ Action Catkolique, by Chanoine L. Picard — 
one of the series entitled Etudes Religieuses, published by “ La Pensee 
Catholique ” (Quai Mativa, 38 Liege, Belgium). 

2 Quce Nobis (1928). (Cf. Irish Ecclesiastical Record, loc. cit., p. 213). 



On the same subject the late Cardinal Vaughan writes : 

" The Catholic layman has, perhaps, a more distinguished 
part to play now in the service of Christ than at any former 
time. . . . He is invited by the authorities of the Church to 
co-operate in a hundred ways and to take part in a hundred 
works, which are essentially and intimately connected with 
public life and wdth the salvation of souls. Rich and poor, 
learned and unlearned, are united in groups and associations 
which aim at securing the claims of Christianity and souls.” 1 

(6) Unity and Endless Variety. — The movement, winch 
has now spread into every country that has a notable 
Catholic population, embraces an endless variety of organisa- 
tions, and aims at influencing the moral, intellectual and 
social lives of the people in almost every detail. Yet, amid 
all its various aspects and manifestations, the wdioJe move- 
ment is marked by a wondrous unity of spirit and of aim, 
and is besides in perfect harmony with the traditional prin- 
ciples and aims which have inspired Catholic Action for 
almost two thousand years. 

The principle of this essential unity is, in the first place, 
the moral and dogmatic teachings of the Church, upon 
which the whole movement is founded, and which never 
vary. Thus, in every phase of the movement, religion, 
justice, charity and piety are accorded primacy of place 
among the forces that are to solve the social question. 
Again, in dealing with the material miseries of the people, 
all Catholics are united in opposition to the exaggerations 
and false principles of Liberalism, Collectivism, Communism 
and the ultra-nationalistic and secularist aspects of Fascism. 
Catholics seek a solution in harmony, at the same time, 
with the instincts of human nature and the exalted ideals 
of Christianity. 

A second source of the uniformity of which w r e speak is 
the fact that all the Catholic social activities of which the 
movement is composed are carried on under the guidance 
of the Bishops and the Supreme Pontiff, so that, in all its 
phases and organisations, it is directed by the same guiding 
hand. The recent Encyclicals of Pius XI on Marriage and 
Christian Education, and, above all, the Encyclical on the 
Social Order ( Quadragesimo Anno, 1931) are outstanding 

1 Cited in Plater — The Priest and .Social Action, pp. 22 II. 



examples of the authoritative and unifying guidance of the 
Sovereign Pontiff. 

(c) Solidarist Ideal. — This last Encyclical was issued, as 
is expressly stated in the document itself , 1 to secure this 
unity especially among Catholic writers on social science. 
The Encyclical practically embodies the principles and 
conclusions of the present day German Catholic School of 
Sociology and Social Reform. The waiters of this school 
include such names as Pesch , 2 Nell-Breuning, Otto Schilling 
and Grundlach. These and other workers in the same field 
have elaborated the system known as Solidarismus, which 
in reality is nothing else than the concrete expression of the 
Catholic traditional ideals as applied to modern conditions. 
The central idea of the Solidaristic social philosophy is the 
organic conception of the State functioning in accordance 
with the dictates of Legal Justice and Charity as contrasted 
with the “ individualistic ” ideal of the Liberals, the 
“ class-war ” of the Socialists, and the excessive bureau- 
cracy of Socialists and Fascists alike. This organic con- 
ception is realised by means of local units such as munici- 
palities and professional corporations (including both 
employers and employed), all enjoying each within its own 
sphere a large measure of autonomy . 3 

( d ) Strictly Non-Political . — The movement, although some- 
times termed “ Christian Democracy ” (a name which has 
received the official sanction of Leo XIII and Pius X ), 4 is 
strictly non-political. In other words, like the Church itself 
(which is affiliated to no political party, and has no special 
predilection for any particular form of government, provided 
only that the functions of government are duly fulfilled), 
the Catholic movement is outside and above all party 

1 See Quadragesimo Anno (C. T. S. edition, London, 1931), p. 70. 

2 Cf. H. Pesch, S.J.- — Lehrbuch der Nation aliikonomie (5 vols.) (Herder, 
Fribourg, 1915-23), and Neubau der Gesellschaft (Flugschriften der Stimmen 
(edition 1919) ; Teschleder und Weber — Socialethik (2 vols.) (Munster, 

5 Quadragesimo Anno, pp. 38—41. For a very brief outline ol this tra- 
ditional Catholic conception of civil organisation, see infra, chap, xx, 
art. 5 ; chap, xxii, arts. 5 and 6 ; chap, xxvii, arts. 2 and 3 ; and chap, 
xxvi and xxvii. 

4 Cf. Leo XIII — Graves de Communi (igor), pp. 170-172, and Pius X — 
Fin Dalla Prima (1909), pp. 185-186. 



politics. It may and does aim at promoting legislation 
and administration in accordance with Christian principles, 
and even may, when necessity arises, use pressure for that 
purpose on governing authorities ; but it is never allied to 
or identified with any pol tical party. On this subject 
Leo XIII writes : 

“ Although Democracy, by its very name and by philosophical 
usage, denotes popular rule, yet in this application it must be 
employed altogether without political signification. . . . For 
the precepts of the natural law and the Gospel, for this very 
reason that they transcend the chances of human existence, must 
necessarily be independent of any form of civil government and 
adapt themselves to all, so long as these are not opposed to what 
is right and just. They are, therefore, and remain in themselves 
completely outside party rivalries and political changes. . . . 
This has ever been the morality of the Church ; by it Roman 
Pontiffs have constantly dealt with States, what ever might be 
their form of government.” 1 

This direction of Leo XIII has been formally confirmed 
by Pius X, who writes : 

“ Christian democracy ought never to mix in party politics ’ 
and ought never to be made use of for party purposes or political 
objects ; that is not its province ; but it should be a beneficient 
activity in favour of the people, founded on the natural law 
and the precepts of the Gospel.” 2 

We shall now sketch briefly the rise and development of 
the Catholic social movement in the Catholic countries of 
Europe. In a separate article a brief account shall be given 
of some of the more important and characteristic organisa- 
tions which have taken shape under its influence. 

Art. 2 — Historical Sketch 

Precursors — Taparelli and O’Connell. — Father Aloysius 
Taparelli, S.J. (1793-1862), a native of Turin, and for many 
years Rector of the Roman College of the Society of Jesus, 
may be considered as the precursor of the modern Catholic 

1 Graves de Communi, p. 172. 

2 Fin Dalla Prima, pp. 185, 186. The same direction is again strongly 
insisted on by our present Holy Father Pius XI (Qua: Nobis, 1928. Cf. 
Irish Ecclesiastical Record, loc. cit., pp. 213, 214), and again still more 
definitely in the Encyclical on Catholic Action — Non Abbiamo Bisogno 
(1931) (C. T. S. edit., pp. 15-17)- 



social movement, especially in its doctrinal or theoretical 
side. His works have had a profound influence upon 
Catholic social teaching and Catholic action for the past 
eighty years. His main w T ork, Theoretical Essay on Natural 
Right from the Historical Standpoint , l which appeared about 
ninety years ago, still remains as one of the best expositions 
of Catholic principles and ideals regarding social and civic 

Again, the career and work of Daniel O’Connell in Ireland, 
and the great popular movement of which he was the leader, 
had great influence in Continental countries ; and inspired 
ideas which prepared the way for a Catholic popular revival. 

Ketteler, Windthorst and the Catholic Movement in 
Germany. — The actual movement, however, began in 
Germany, and Baron Von Ketteler (1811—1877), Bishop of 
Mainz, was its real founder. Ketteler recognized the danger 
to the Church from the apathy of the wealthier Catholics, 
and even of large numbers of the clergy, in face of the 
misery and material degradation of the labouring population. 
In 1847 appeared the Communist Manifesto of Marx and 
Engels, heralding the birth of the Socialist movement. 
Ketteler was one of the few men of his generation that 
recognized its significance ; and to him belongs, in the 
words of another great Catholic leader, Gaspard Decurtins, 
“ The undying honour of having met the manifesto of the 
Communists with a programme of Christian social reform 
that stands unsurpassed to this day.” 2 

It was at the first Catholic Congress held at Mainz, 1848, 
two years before Ketteler’s consecration as Bishop of Mainz, 
that he delivered the famous address which was really the 
beginning of the Catholic social movement in Germany. 
“ The task of religion, the task of the Catholic societies in 
the immediate future,” he said, “ has to do with social 
conditions. The most difficult question — one which no 

1 Saggio Teoretico di Diretto Naturale Apogiatto Sul Fatio was first pub- 
lished about 1840. An abridgement of the book, entitled An Abridged 
Course in Natural Right, appeared in i860, of which a French translation 
was published in Paris (1864). Among Taparelli’s other works, one of the 
most important is his critical examination of Representative Government 
in Modern States ( Esame Critica degli Ordini Representativi della Socieia 
Moderna, Rome, 1854). Cf. supra, “ Introduction.” 

2 Metlake, op. cit., p. 31. 



legislation, no form of government has been able to solve — 
is the social question. The difficulty, the vastness, the 
urgency of this question fills me with the greatest joy ! ” 
The cause of the joy he explains to be the fact that “ It 
must now become evident which Church bears within it 
the power of divine truth. The world will see that to the 
Catholic Church is reserved the definite solution of tho 
social question ; for the State, with all its legislative 
machinery, has not the power to solve it.” 1 

It was largely as a result of Ketteler’s labours and in- 
cessant exhortations, continuing over a period of nearly 
thirty years (1848-77), that German Catholics were stirred 
into vigorous action on the social question. Since his time 
the Catholic clergy of Germany have taken a prominent 
part in social reform, and have produced from their own 
ranks a succession of able writers and social leaders. Among 
these latter may be mentioned Canon Moufang, who suc- 
ceeded Ketteler in the leadership of the movement, and 
later, on Canon Hitze, who succeeded Moufang. 

Besides Ketteler’s numberless sermons and addresses, 
pamphlets and books poured from his pen. Even to-day 
his two books, Liberty, Authority and the Church 2 and 
Christianity and the Labour Question , 3 as w r ell as his work 
published under the title of A Christian Labour Catechism , 4 
remain a classical expression of the Church’s position. 

When, in 1870, the German Centre Party was formed 
under the leadership of Ludwig Windthorst (1812-91), to 
oppose Bismarck’s Kulturkampf, the promotion of the 
Catholic social programme became a central item in its 
policy. After the death of Bishop Ketteler in 1877, 
Windthorst became the predominating figure at every one 
of the great German Catholic Congresses. 5 He fitly closed 
his great career with the founding of the Volksverein — The 
People’s Union for Catholic Germany — the constitution of 
w T hich he drafted on his death-bed. We shall refer to it 

Precursors of the Social Movement in France . 6 — In the 

first seventy years of the nineteenth century many French 
Catholic publicists and economists of different political views 

1 lb., p. 26. 2 Metlake, chap. ix. 3 lb., chap. x. 4 lb., chap. xii. 

8 Plater, op. cit., p. 59. 8 Cf. Moon, op. cit., pp. 13-120. 



wrote strongly in favour of social reform legislation, and 
advocated also Catholic organisation to combat the evils 
resulting from industrial liberalism. Among these may be 
mentioned Chateaubriand, author of the Le Genie du 
Gkristianisme (1802 ) ; Philip J. B. Buchez (1796-1865) ; 
Louis Veuillot (1813-1883) ; Lacordaire ( 1802-186)), the 
great Dominican preacher ; Vicomte J. P. A. Ville-neuve- 
Burgemont (1784-1850) ; Vicomte Amauld de Melun 
(1807-1877) ; and Frederick Ozanam (1813-1853). 

Ozanam, besides writing a good deal on social subjects 
and on the great role played by Christianity in promoting 
social well being, 1 is perhaps best remembered as the 
founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. This work, 
and indeed Ozanam’s whole life, might be regarded as a 
reply, and not a wholly unconscious reply, to the well- 
known challenge to the Holy See which Saint-Simon, the 
Socialist writer, puts into the mouth of Luther. 

“ Your predecessors,” he says in a supposed address to the 
Holy Father, “ have sufficiently perfected the theory of 
Christianity ; they have sufficiently propagated that theory. 
... It is the general application of that doctrine must now be 
your concern. True Christianity should make men happy not 
only in heaven but also on earth. . . . The clergy will always 
exercise a predominant influence on the temporal institutions of 
all nations when it sets to work in a positive manner to ameliorate 
the condition of the poorer class, which is always the most 
numerous class of the community.” 2 

Frederick le Play 3 (1806-1882) and Henry C. X. Perm 
(1815-1905), Professor of Law in the Catholic University 
of Louvain, both wrote extensively on social subjects ; and 

1 His best work is La Civilisation ChrUienne Chez les Francs (“ Christian 
Civilization among the Franks ”). 

! Cited in Moon, op. cit., p. 26, from Saint Simon’s book, Le Nouveau 
Christianisme (1852). We may note in passing that although earthly hap- 
piness is not the object aimed at by Christian morality, the nation that is 
true to its precepts normally obtains the largest measure of true happiness 
that earthly life can afford (see chap, xxix, art. 3, infra). 

3 Le Play’s most remarkable works are Les Ouvriers Europeans (1855) 
and Le Reforme Sociale en France (1864). The former work, which is of 
permanent interest and importance, is a series of thirty-six monographs 
on the social condition of the working class families in as many different 
countries of Europe through which he had travelled for the purpose of 
investigating social conditions. Cf. Moon, op. cit., p. 421. For an account 
of Perin and his writings, cf. lb., pp. 59 ff and p. 422. 



both exercised great influence on French Catholic thought 
during the third quarter of the 19th century. Their views, 
however, were more conservative than those of the Catholic 
writers of the preceding generation and of the school of 
social thought that arose after 1870. Unlike both these 
latter groups they were opposed to State interference in the 
relations between employers and workmen. 

Count Albert de Mun. — The real founders, however, of the 
Catholic social movement in France w r ere two young Catholic 
noblemen, officers in the French army, who made each 
other’s acquaintance while prisoners of war (1870) in the 
German internment camp at Aix-la-Chapelle. These were 
Count Albert de Mun and the Marquis Rene de la Tour 
du Pin. 

De Mun tells the whole story in his memoirs, which were 
published thirty-seven years later (1908). 1 He and his 
companion, returning to France after their release from 
prison, witnessed the dreadful scenes of the Paris Communist 
insurrection in 1871, and took part in the operations against 
the insurgents. When the fighting was over and Do Mun 
and others were shocked by the ruthlessness of the measures 
adopted against the defeated Communists, a certain 
Vincentian lay-brother, Maurice Maignen, with whom De 
Mun accidentally came into contact, made a deep impression 
on him. Maignen one day pointed dramatically to the 
charred ruins of some of the great palaces, declared with 
emphasis that it w r as the rich and noble and not the pro- 
letarian insurgents who were fundamentally responsible for 
the ruined streets and the charred and mangled corpses 
with which they had been so recently strewn. 

“ It is you,” he said, “ who have amused yourselves within 
these palaces now in ruins ; you who pass by without seeing the 
people, without knowing them or their character or thoughts, 
or caring for their needs and their sufferings, it is you are the 
real culprits.” 2 

Catholic Workingmen’s Clubs. — Towards the end of the 
year 1871 the foundations of the new movement were laid, 
when De Mun, Maignen, La Tour du Pin, and several other 

1 Ma Vocation Sociale (Paris, 1908). 

2 lb., p. 62 (cited in Moon, op. cit., p. 82). 



leading Catholic gentlemen of Paris issued the famous 
“ Appeal to Men of Good Will,” and sketched their social 
programme. The latter included such items as the multi- 
plication of Catholic Workingmen’s Clubs on a huge scale 
{Oeuvres de cercles Catholiques d’Ouvriers) : 

“To subversive doctrines [the appeal continued] and dangerous 
teachings, we must oppose the holy teachings of the Gospel ; 
to materialism the notion of sacrifice ; to the cosmopolitan spirit 
the idea of country ; to atheistical negation Catholic affirmation. 
. . . The privileged classes have duties to fulfil towards their 
brethren, the workingmen ; and society, though it has a right 
to defend itself with arms, must know that shot and shell do 
not cure, and that other measures are needed.” 1 

Do Mun and his party relied too much on the leadership 
and patronage of the wealthier and better educated classes, 
and did not believe in associations made up exclusively of 
the working classes, which Leo XIII later on and his suc- 
cessors have so strongly recommended. However, the 
Association of Catholic Workingmen’s Clubs expanded 
rapidly, and in 1884 had 400 Committees, with 50,000 
members. But its importance and significance were out 
of all proportion to its actual numbers, for it was the means 
of initiating a national movement, which aroused the 
Catholic upper classes to a sense of their social obligations. 
It also became, through Dc Mun himself and the political 
party called the Popular Liberal Party (which he founded 
in 1899 in conjunction with Piou and others), an important 
factor in influencing social legislation. 

Another outcome of this Association was the Catholic 
Association of French Youth ( Association Catholique de la 
Jeunesse Francaise), which was founded by De Mun in 
1886 as a kind of preparatory school for the Catholic work- 
ingmen’s clubs. The Association of French Youth has now 
over 140,000 members, 2 and serves as a recruiting bureau 
for the Action Populaire (of which we shall speak later), 
and the other social popular organisations which sprang 
up later on. 

In France, as in Germany and Belgium, Bishops and 
priests threw themselves whole-heartedly into the social 

1 Ma Vocation Sociale, pp. £>7-75 (Moon, p. S3). 

2 Cf. Moon, op. cit., pp. 347 If. 



movement. In France especially there is a very voluminous 
social literature written mostly by the priests. 1 

De Mun and the Socialists. — Perhaps it was the Chamber 
of Deputies that witnessed De Mun’s greatest efforts. There 
he fought, with all his great oratorical powers, during a 
period of some thirty years, for remedial social legislation. 
The definiteness of the programme which he consistently 
but all too unsuccessfully advocated formed a striking con- 
trast to the vague demands of the Socialists. Hence he 
could declare, as ho did during a debate on April 30th, 1894, 
addressing Millerand, the Socialist leader : 

“ For twenty years past I have demanded, here in this tribune, 
the most precise social reforms. It is not my fault if hardly a 
single one of them has been achieved. My responsibility is 
absolutely cleared. It is yours that is in question. You teach 
the people to expect nothing, to hope for nothing from the 
progess of ideas, of institutions, of laws, and to seek in their 
labour organizations, not the means of defending their rights, 
but a weapon of combat, preparing by means of continual 
violence for civil war. ... I say, with profound conviction, you 
have cruelly betrayed the cause of the people.” 2 

The Movement in Switzerland, Belgium, etc. — From 
Germany and France the Catholic movement gradually 
spread into all the countries of Western and Central Europe, 
including Switzerland, Belgium, Holland ; and later on Italy, 
Spain and England. The beginnings of the movement in 
Switzerland are associated with the names of Cardinal 
Mermillod and Caspar Decurtins. Mermillod filled in 
Switzerland somewhat the same position as Ketteler in 
Germany. Decurtins was a disciple of Ketteler and a friend 
of Cardinal Manning. It was he who, like De Mun in 
France, led the political agitation for social reform. 

It was under Decurtins 1 auspices, too, that the first 

1 Cf. Plater, The Priest and Social Action , chap. v. 

2 Cited in Moon, op. cit., p. 199. Ci. ib., pp. 113-120, for a very in- 
teresting and suggestive account of Leon Harmel, and the remarkable 
Catholic industrial guild (in which the mediaeval Catholic principles are 
successfully adapted to modern needs) formed by the Harmel family at 
the Harmel Cotton Mills at Vai-des-Bois. See also the two volume Vie 
1 Is Leon Harmel, par Fere Guitton, S.J. (“ Edition Spes,” Paris, 1927). 



“ International Federation of Catholic Social Workers ” 
was formed, in 1884, at Fribourg, under the presidency of 
Cardinal Mermillod. The social code and programme which 
was drawn up as a result of the conferences of the Federation 
was presented by Car di nal Mermillod to Leo XIII in 1888, 
and was probably one of the causes that finally resulted in 
the publication of the Rerum Novarum three years later. 

The Malines Union. — The Fribourg Union discontinued 
its sittings after 1891. Another international Union on a 
wider basis was established at Malines in 1920 under the 
presidency of Cardinal Mercier. The Malines Union, which 
is called “ The International Union for Social Studies,” 
includes in its membership several of the most distinguished 
Catholic scholars in the social and economic sciences, drawn 
from all countries of Western Europe, France, Germany, 
Belgium, Holland, Italy, Spain, and England. After the 
death of Cardinal Mercier in 1924, his place as president of 
the Union was taken by Archbishop Van Roly, his suc- 
cessor in the See of Malines. The most important achieve- 
ment, so far, of the Malines Union has been the issue, in 
1927, of a compendium of Catholic principles and con- 
clusions applicable to the present post-war conditions in 
Europe and America. 1 This little book summarizes and 
brings up to date the conclusions and recommendations of 
the best Catholic authorities concerning contemporary social 

The Movement in other Countries. — Space will not permit 
us to follow the developments of the Catholic movement 
in the different countries of Europe and America. In Italy 
Catholic action is very highly organised, and is under the 
immediate patronage of the Pope himself. There are 
regularly recurring local and national congresses, and a 
network of diocesan and national councils, which control 
associations of various kinds, covering almost every phase 
of human activity. Spain, in which the movement is 
organised partly on the model of Italy, held its first Catholic 

1 Code Social (" Edition Spes,” Paris, 1927). An English edition entitled 
A Code of Social Principles, has been published by the Catholic Social 
Guild, Oxford, 1929. 



congress in 1929, under the presidency of the Cardinal 
Archbishop of Seville. 1 

In Holland the movement is particularly strong and is 
very highly organised, being under the guidance of a 
number of priests specially devoted to the work, under the 
leadership of Mgr. Pools, a dignitary of the diocese of 
Limburg. It was the Catholic organisations that were 
mainly instrumental in saving Holland from the Bolshevist 
peril in 1919. Even in the United States of America, in 
which the Catholics form less than twenty per cent, of the 
population, the beginnings of a strong Catholic movement 
have appeared. 

The Movement in Ireland. — In Ireland a Catholic social 
movement in the ordinary sense was practically impossible 
up to very recent times. The land struggle, the fight for 
educational freedom, the national contest, the work of 
church building and religious organisation, engaged the 
energies of the priests and people during the nineteenth 
and the first quarter of the twentieth century. It is certain, 
however, as Nitti acutely observes, 2 that it was principally 
owing to its Catholic faith, and the strenuous efforts and 
leadership of the Catholic clergy, that the Irish nation has 
been so far saved from destruction. 

The time has now, however, arrived, when a movement 
for social reconstruction on a definitely Catholic basis is 
possible. That such a movement is urgently needed is 
admitted on all hands ; and in several different ways efforts 
are being made to promote it. Thus a regular course of 
social study has been inserted by the Irish Bishops in the 
programme of Religious Knowledge for the secondary 
schools. A whole series (nn. 233 249) of the Decrees of 
the Maynooth Synod of 1927 are devoted to the subject 
of “ Catholic Action.” The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, 
which is year by year becoming more active, especially in 
the principal towns, is now carrying on several activities of 
a social reconstructive character. The number of Catholic 

1 What may be the effects on the Catholic Movement of the Spanish 
Revolution of 1931, and about the same time the Fascist attack upon the 
Catholic societies in Italy, is not yet known (1931). Cf. the Kncydical 
of Pius XI — Non Abbiamo Bisogno, 1931 (C. T. S. edition). 

2 Catholic Socialism, p. 330. 



social activities of different kinds, rescue societies, boys’ 
clubs, etc., is increasing. 1 The work of professional organisa- 
tion on definitely Catholic lines has been begun. Thus the 
“ Irish Guild of Catholic Nurses,” founded in 1922, has 
received the formal approbation of the Bishops (1927). 2 
The “ Legion of Mary,” a union of Catholic women for 
social work, which was founded in Dublin in 1925, is 
gradually extending over the whole country. The “ Catholic 
Boy Scouts ” was founded in 1928, under the patronage of 
the Bishops, and is growing fast. The foundations of a 
Catholic press are being gradually laid. An Rioghacht (the 
League of the Kingship of Christ) was founded in Dublin 
on October 1st, 1926 (the first celebration of the Feast of 
Jesus Christ the King), with the object of promoting social 
study and Catholic social propaganda and initiating social 
reconstruction. Efforts are also being made to reunite and 
co-ordinate for similar purposes the already existing 
“ Catholic Young Men’s Societies.” The Central Catholic 
Library, founded in Dublin (1921), and the growing activities 
of the Irish Catholic Truth Society are all evidences of a 
nascent national movement for Catholic social reconstruction. 

In England. — In England Cardinal Manning wrote strongly 
during the second half of the 19th century in favour of 
social reform. In innumerable letters to the Press and in 
articles and periodicals he supported the workers in their 
demands for protective legislation. 3 His efforts were ably 
seconded by Bishop Bagshawe, of Nottingham, who ad- 
vocated a programme of social reform even more thorough 
than that of Cardinal Manning. In reality, however, 
Manning as well as Bagshawe had more lasting influence 
on the Continent than in England itself where a Catholic 
movement on a large scale was at the time scarcely possible. 

The foundation of the Catholic Social Guild, in 1909, by 
a group of Catholic social workers, of whom Father C. 

1 Cf. The booklet published by the St. Vincent de Paul Society, entitled 
Handbook for Catholic Social Workers in Dublin (1929), for a full list of 

2 Cf. The Irish Nursing News, published monthly, which is the official 
organ of the Guild. A Catholic Guild of Medical Doctors, to be called 
the " Guild of SS. Luke and Damien,” is also in process of formation, as 
well as a Catholic Guild of Chemists (1931). 

3 Cf. McEntee, op. cit., pp. 68 ft', and Nitti, op. cit ., chap. ii. 



Plater, S.J., was the leading spirit, marked the beginning 
of a definite movement which continues to make steady 
progress. The main activities of the Guild are the estab- 
lishment over the whole country of circles of social study, 
the publication of handbooks for the students, the organisa- 
tion in Oxford of a Catholic Workers’ College, for the higher 
education of carefully selected men of the working class, 
with a view to further propagandist work among working- 
men ; and the conducting of an annual summer school in 
Oxford. The organ of the Guild is The Christian Democrat, 
which appears monthly. 1 

The Popes and the Catholic Movement. — The German 
associations which marked the definite beginnings of the 
modern Catholic movement, were called Piusvereine after 
Pius IX. It was due in no small part to his great influence 
with the people that the widespread Catholic consciousness 
was formed, which led gradually to a reaction against 
Liberalism, and to the general movement towards Catholic 
reconstruction which we have described. 

The Encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII, and especially the 
Encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891) on the condition of the 
working classes, began a new phase in the history of the 
Catholic social movement. These pronouncements of the 
Supreme Pontiff, which have since been confirmed and 
enforced by the Encyclicals of Pius X and our present 
Holy Father Pius XI on the same subject, 2 besides con- 
taining the strong and cordial approval of the Holy See 
for the movement, are essentially an authoritative ex- 
position of the Church’s teaching on social matters. They 
are full of urgent appeals to the Bishops, the clergy and the 
faithful, to devote themselves zealously to the great work 

1 Cf. McEntee, op. cit., pp. 173 ff. The Christian Democrat (a very valu- 
able publication for all interested in the Catholic movement) is published 
by the Catholic Social Guild, Oxford. 

2 Most of these are published in English in The Pope and the People (new 
edition, 1929). Cf. also The Great Encyclicals of Leo XIII (Benziger Bros., 
New York, 1903), and The Encyclicals of Pius XI, edited by J. H. Ryan 
(Herder, London, 1927). The Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, 1931, of 
Pius XI is, with the Rerum Novarum, the most important document 
hitherto published on the Catholic Social movement. This Encyclical and 
those on Marriage and the Christian Education of Youth, which are not 
contained in the collections just referred to, are each published in booklet 
form by the English Catholic Truth Society. 



of Catholic social reconstruction. 1 Above all, the Encycli- 
cals of Pius XI and the new phase of the movement which 
has developed under the name of Catholic Action, as a 
result of his influence, have given fresh life and renewed 
vigour to the Catholic Cause. 

It is due mainly to the exhortations and guidance of the 
Sovereign Pontiffs that the movement has steadily gathered 
strength for the past forty years, and has spread so widely, 
while still preserving its unity of character and aim. 

Art. 3 — The Catholic Organisations 

As it is outside our present scope to follow out in detail 
the several phases and developments of the Catholic Social 
Movement, we shall only indicate briefly some of the prin- 
cipal organisations to which it lias given rise, and to which 
it mostly owes its steady progress. 2 

German Catholic Congresses. — The German Catholic Con- 
gresses had their origin in the society called the Piusverein, 
already reforred to, founded by Professor Kaspar Iliffcl and 
his friend Lennig for the defence of religious liberties. 3 A 
general meeting of the delegates from the various centres 
was arranged to take place at Mainz in 1848. This was 
the first of the great Catholic congresses. It was at this 
gathering that Bishop Ketteler delivered his historic address, 
previously mentioned, which began the great social move- 
ment in Germany and in Europe. In 1858 not only were 
representatives of local branches of the Puisverein invited, 
but also representatives of other Catholic associations, as well 
as leading Catholic journalists, publicists, and professional 
men, so that the meetings took on the character of a 
Catholic parliament. 

Their Utility . — These general meetings of Catholic Germany 
were found to have extraordinarjf utility in encouraging 
and co-ordinating the efforts of the Catholic social workers 

1 Cf. Leo XIII — Rerum Novaruin, 1891, pp. 141-148; Pius X — Fin 
Daiia Prima, 1903, pp. 193 ff ; Pius XI — Ubi Arcano, 1922, pp. 247 li, 
and, above all, Quadragesimo Anno, 1931 (C. T. S. edit.), pp. 61-70. 

2 Besides the reference already given, cf. Catholic Encyclop., vol. iv, 
pp. 242-251, art. “ Congresses, Catholic.” 

3 Plater — Social Work in Germany, p. 39. 



and propagating Catholic thought. They encouraged 
Catholic workers by giving them a sense of solidarity, and 
bringing home to each individual worker the fact that he 
had tens of thousands of fellow labourers in the same cause. 
The congresses were an encouragement, too, in another way. 
Where the Catholics of a particular district needed strength- 
ening, there the congress went to strengthen them, as 
happened at Neisse, in Silesia (1899). Local effort was 
stimulated by the presence, for a whole week, of the picked 
forces of all Catholic Germany. The Catholics, disheartened, 
perhaps, by the sneers of their Socialist fellows, could thus 
again hold up their heads and glory in their faith. 

Again, the congresses co-ordinated Catholic endeavour. 
Windthorst called them the “ Autumn Manoeuvres,” and a 
hostile paper referred to them as “ The Review of the 
Catholic Troops.” Practically all the German Catholic in- 
stitutions are now represented at these congresses, and many 
take the opportunity supplied by the congress to hold their 
annual meeting and publish their reports. Different 
societies profit by thus getting into touch with one another, 
learning local needs and essaying fresh developments. 
Thus the efforts, aims, methods and results of the various 
associations are made known to the whole country, and 
when fresh needs arise the congresses call into being new 
organisations to meet them. 

Especially as a Means of Propaganda. — Finally, the con- 
gresses propagate Catholic thought. In the first place wide 
publicity is given to the proceedings of the congresses by 
an army of reporters, representing every newspaper of 
standing, including non-Catholic papers. An illustrated 
volume is always published, giving a full account of the 
meetings, including those of the various societies represented 
at the congress. Besides all this, the congress issues a 
number of resolutions embodying some Catholic principle 
suited to the time. These resolutions are repeated by the 
Press, and serve as mottoes for Catholic speakers. They 
form the watchwords, for the year, of the Catholic associa- 
tions, and so create a sound public opinion on questions of 
the day. 

It was in no small measure due to these congresses that 
Catholic Germany stood so firm under the pressure of the 



Kulturkampf. There was even an advance in some 
directions. For, whereas, before the Kulturkampf, there 
were but four or five Catholic papers in Prussia, the number 
had increased, in 1873, to one hundred and twenty, including 
many dailies. 1 

The Volksverein. — Of the permanent Catholic organisations 
of Germany, the Volksverein, or “ People’s League,” is the 
most important. Father Plater, S.J ., 2 has described it as 
the most successful association ever devised for the pro- 
motion of the social sense among a people. Founded by 
Windthorst in 1890 to defend the Catholic position against 
the Social Democrats, the society spread very rapidly. In 
1904 it had 400,000 members, and in 1924, after the havoc 
wrought by the war, it had again attained to 588,902, of 
whom 130,000 were women. The Volksverein has evolved 
a definite social programme, and educated the people in 
Catholic social principles. Besides its social teaching and 
propaganda, it also provides the people with an abundance 
of excellent yet cheap literature on Christian Apologetics. 

The Central Bureau is at Miinchen-Gladbach. Here 
thirty -five men are employed. Of these, nine are scientific 
and literary collaborators, some being ecclesiastics and 
doctors in theology, others laymen and doctors in political 
economy. There is also a publishing-house with a press ; 
a section for lantern-slides ; a library of Social Science and 
Apologetics (70,000 volumes) ; a service of social infor- 
mation. In the country there are seven branch libraries, 
sixteen regional secretariates with nineteen employees, of 
whom ten are university graduates. 

The Volksvereinsverlag publishing-house at Miinchen- 
Gladbach has published over 700 books and pamphlets ; 
and countless leaflets have been distributed free. Every 
two months there appear Der Volksverein, a review for 
men ; Die Frau im Volksverein, a review for women ; 
Fuhrerkorrespondenz, a review for directors of organisations. 
Then there is a bulletin for representatives, a bulletin for 
propagandists or “Confidence -men” ; and the Sozialpolitische 
Korrespondenz, which appears every three weeks and is sent 
free to 350 Catholic newspapers. 3 

1 Plater, op. cit., p. 60. 2 lb., p. 81. 

3 International Handbook of Catholic Organisations, p. 65. 



Besides this abundance of excellent literature which comes 
pouring out from the Miinchen-Gladbach every year about 
5,000 popular meetings are held where lectures are given 
on topical subjects. In various districts special courses 
are given in practical sociology, lasting from eight to fifteen 
days. At tho central headquarters there are vacation 
courses of eight days ; special courses for workmen, artisans, 
business-men, agriculturists, commercial employees, school- 
masters, etc., social and apologetic courses for propagandists 
as well as for the leaders of Catholic and interdenominational 
professional organisations. This is but a very imperfect 
outline of one of the fifty-eight great Catholic organisations 
of Germany. 

The “ Semaines Sociales de France.” — In France the 
Semaines Sociales 1 are the national congresses of the Catholic 
social movement. Even seventeen years ago a French 
publicist could truly write : 

“ All courses and all classic works treating of economic 
doctrines give a large space to the study of social Catholicism. 
And all signalise the Semaines Sociales as the most characteristic 
and most notably scientific manifestation of this sociological 
school .” 2 

The Semaines Sociales are sessions of social study which 
take place in a different French city every year, gathering 
the directors of organisations around the most eminent 
masters of Catholic social science. “ To attend as a student,” 
says a contemporary writer, “ is no sinecure. From eight 
in the morning until eleven at night, the student has hardly 
time to breathe In the morning, he attends tw r o lecture 
courses, each lasting an hour and a half ; after lunch, he is 
taken to visit neighbouring factories, co-operative societies 
trade unions, or w r orkingmen’s gardens ; late in the afternoon 
there is another lecture course ; and finally, in the evening 
there is a general lecture, open to a more popular audience 
as well as to real students.” 3 

1 The institution of Semaines Sociales has been extended to other 
countries, such as Belgium, Canada, Chile, Spain, Italy, Holland, Poland, 
Switzerland, Uruguay, etc. 

2 Revue Hebdomad air e (Aug., 1913), pp. 522—531. 

3 Moon. op. cit.. p. 342. 



Their Activities and Affiliated Organisations. — During the 
fifteen sessions which took place between 1904, the year of 
foundation, and 1923, more than 100 professors or lecturers 
have delivered over 300 courses or lectures, of which the 
reports in extenso are a store house of learning. 

Besides their own direct work, the Semaines Sociales have 
led to the creation of several organisations destined to extend 
their field of influence. Among the more important of these 
are : Les Semaines Sociales Regionales (“ Local Social 

Weeks ”), Les Semaines Hurdles (“ Rural Weeks ”), and 
the Union d’ Etudes des Catholiques Sociaux (“ Catholic Social 
Study Unions ”). 

The second of these organisations is of special interest 
to Irish social students. The purpose of the “ Rural Weeks ” 
is the education of social leaders for the rural districts. In 
a house of retreats, a monastery, or a school during the 
holidays, suitable young persons from 18 to 30 years of age 
are brought together. For a week religious courses are 
held, as well as courses of agricultural technique, but, above 
all, social courses (treating of such matters as trade unions, 
co-operation, rural credit, mutual insurance). In 1923 
more than twenty “ Rural Weeks ” were held in various 
regions of France. 1 

The “ Action Populaire.” — If the Semaines Sociales of 
France correspond somewhat to the Gorman Catholic con- 
gresses, the Action Populaire, which is conducted by the 
Jesuit Fathers, corresponds to the Volksverein, and was in 
fact, inspired by it. It was founded in 1902, and up to the 
European War had its headquarters at Rheims. During 
the War all its books, documents, etc., were lost owing to 
the bombardment of Rheims, and other causes. It resumed 
work in 1919, establishing its new headquarters in Paris. 

The Action Populaire is an editorial and distributing 
centre for social literature, as well as an information bureau 
and a centre for organising study courses and popular con- 
ventions. Thus it is in a manner the heart and centre of 
the Catholic social movement in France. Even in 1912 the 
central office at Rheims employed sixteen editors — ten 
priests and six laymen — besides twenty-seven secretaries. 

1 International Handbook, pp. 62-63. 


A large staff kept busy sending out the mass of literature 
daily dispatched from the bureau. This literature, pro- 
duced by the most prominent Catholic social writers and by 
non-Catholic economists, is sold very cheaply. The associa- 
tion has recently brought about the foundation of a Joint 
Stock Company (“ Edition Spes,” Paris), which includes a 
publishing office, and has charge of the distribution of the 
pamphlets and other publications of the association. 

Its Publications. — From the outset the Action Populaire 
has been publishing a series of thirty -page pamphlets (called 
Brochures Jaunes) on such subjects as old age pensions, co- 
operative associations, labour unions, mixed industrial 
boards, housing problems, accident compensation, socialism, 
workingmen’s gardens, child labour, etc. To this series 
was added later on another called Les Actes Sociaux, which 
is a very cheap edition of the principal laws, papal pro- 
nouncements, and other documents on social matters. A 
third series, Les Plans et Documents, comprise documentary 
and doctrinal monographs, designed for social study clubs. 
A very notable publication is the Annee Sociale Internationale, 
which is a monumental work of reference on the whole 
social movement. 

The Action Populaire has also six periodicals. Of these 
we may mention Dossiers de V Action Populaire, a fortnightly 
review, composed of detachable articles for study, docu- 
mentation and action ; Peuple de France,, a monthly review 
for popular education ; and L’ Action Populaire, a quarterly 
of social and religious propaganda. 

Its other Activities and Departments. Again, the Action 
Populaire is an information bureau, where thousands of 
inquiries are answered every year. These inquiries are on 
all sorts of religious and social questions — how to found a 
mutual aid society ; what employment young girls leaving 
their home village should seek ; what authority should be 
consulted on social insurance, etc. 

Finally, the Action Populaire has engaged increasingly 
in the work of organising study courses, participating in 
social conferences, organising popular conventions, etc . 1 

1 Cf . International Handbook, p. 61 ; also Moon, op. cit., pp. 321—339. 



The Belgian “ Boerenbond ” (Farmer’s Union). — Of very 
special interest to the Irish reader is the Belgian Boerenbond,. 1 
It was founded in 1890 by M. L’Abbe Mellaerts (a parish 
priest of a rural parish in Flanders), assisted by M. Helleputte 
and M. Schollaert. To-day it is a social force of the first 
order among the Flemish peasants, answering in the highest 
measure to the needs of the farming population. It caters 
principally for small cottiers whose holdings consist usually 
of some ten statute acres. 2 

The union comprises about 1,200 guilds, each guild in- 
cluding about 150 cottiers. The parish priest is usually 
the hon. secretary of the guild ; and he with a few of the 
more intelligent and better educated of the peasants form 
the local executive committee. Every member must be a 
practising Catholic. The president of the union is a priest — 
a dignitary of the Archdiocese of Malines. In the head 
office at Louvain about 500 men are employed, of whom 
about seventeen are priests. All these are paid officials. 
The officials of the local guilds are not paid. 

Its Activities. — The functions of the Union are to watch 
over the interests of its members in the public legislature 
and administration, and to supply them with all the services 
(and many more) which are in other countries committed 
to a State Department of Agriculture. Amongst the ad- 
vantages which the member enjoys the following are note- 
worthy : 

(a) All that the peasant requires to buy, such as seeds, 
artificial manures, implements and machinery, etc., may 
be procured through the Boerenbond depot. The most 
important advantages of this privilege are that the farmers 
are ensured the best quality of seeds and manures, and when 
selling the produce are assured a just price. 

(b) An excellent, cheap and safe system of insurance of 
cattle, hay, etc., as well as of life insurance, is brought 
within reach of all the members through the Boerenbond 
Insurance Department. This belongs to the farmers them- 
selves and is self-contained. 

1 The Head Offices are in Louvain (Rue des Recollets 24). 

* On this farm the Boerenbond peasant now keeps five or six milch 
cows (whose average annual yield of milk is at present 800 gallons each), 
rears two or three calves, keeps a sow and some fat pigs and much poultry. 



(c) Every guild has a local bank which is affiliated to 
the Central Boerenbond Bank at Louvain. This latter is 
one of the strongest and most important banks in Belgium. 
Thus the union has complete control of its own financial 
affairs ; and can accommodate its members with loans at 
a very cheap rate. Advances are made to the individual 
cottier on the recommendation and guarantee of the local 
guild to which he belongs. 

( d ) Some forty inspectors are employed for the help of 
the members. All of these are skilled in organising and each 
is besides a specialist in some particular branch of agri- 
cultural science or work, such as Veterinary Science, 
Engineering, Building, etc. 

(e) Several journals and reviews are published for the 
education of the members in agricultural and other matters. 

The Boerenbond ha3 transformed the whole agricultural 
life of West Flanders ; and since its rise the cottiers have 
become quite independent and prosperous. Associations 
like the Boerenbond , combined with the excellent social 
legislation of the Catholic government that held power 
for so many years previous to the War (1884-1914), places 
Belgium in a foremost position in social reform. 1 

Press Organisations. — Another class of Catholic social 
organisation which has been making much headway in 
Catholic countries since 1920 is the Catholic Press Associa- 
tion. The object of this association is to organise and 
propagate amongst the people reading matter of good 
quality, treating of all subjects of interest, including religion 
education, politics, economics, finance, sport, etc., but 
handling them from the Christian standpoint, and with a 

1 Cf. Vermcersch, S.J. — Manuel Social , for an account of the great series 
of laws for social and industrial reform passed by the Catholic Government 
of Belgium during these thirty fruitful years. 

Among the several other types of Catholic associations which now flourish 
in Belgium the Association of Catholic Youth (“ Association Catholique 
dela Jeunesse Belgique,” or “ A. C. J. B.”) holds a foremost place. These 
include associations of boys, of girls, of boys of the labouring class 
(“ Jeunesse Ouvriere Catholique ” or “ J. O. C.”), of boys of the agri- 
cultural class (" J. A. C.”), etc. Cf. Picard and Hoyois — L’ Association Cath. 
de la Jeunesse Belgique, published at the Secretariat General de l’A. C. J. B., 
126 Rue de Tirelemont, Louvain, 1924 ; also Les Documents de la Vie 
Iniellccluelle (Monthly Review), Sept. 20th, 1931, published at 11 Rue 
Quentin-Bauchart, Paris viii®. 



Catholic tone and outlook. The Catholic Press is thus 
meant to supplant the unchristian capitalistic Press, or at 
least to counteract its influences. 

Some fifteen different Press Associations belonging to 
Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Holland, Hungary, etc., 
are enumerated 1 as existing in 1923. The number is prob- 
ably very much, greater at present. Some of these, such 
as the Oeuvre du Franc de la Presse 2 (founded in Paris, 1919, 
by Canon Couget), aim at providing funds for the founding 
of Catholic papers or for subsidizing those already in exist- 
ence. The object of others is to unify and co-ordinate the 
activities and efforts of all the Catholic newspapers and 
pressmen of the country. Others again aim at forming 
a body of zealous workers who would devote their energies 
to extend the circulation of the Catholic Press. 

“ Ora et Labora.” — The object of the Institucion Inter - 
nacional Ora et Labora, which was founded in the Pontifical 
Seminary of Seville, 1905, and has now a membership of 
over 15,000, is to train seminarists for Catholic propaganda 
in all its forms ; to carry on a crusade on behalf of the Catholic 
Press ; and to propagate among all the nations the in- 
stitution of the “ Press Day.” 3 It has sections in seventy- 
four Spanish seminaries, and correspondents in most of the 
chief cities of the world. 

The “ Maison de la Bonne Presse .” 1 — The Maison de la 
Bonne Presse of Paris is the most powerful institution for 
Press propaganda that exists in France. It is organised as 
a Joint Stock Company, and unites in a single establish- 
ment a mass of newspapers, magazines, books and writings 
of all kinds, including works of information and organs of 
propaganda of the first order of excellence. It has special 

1 Cf. International Handbook, chap. iii. An excellent and very compre- 
hensive account ol the Catholic Press as it was twenty years ago, will be 
found in the Catholic Encyclopedia, art. “ Periodical Literature, Catholic," 
vol. xi, pp. 369-396. 

2 The title in English would perhaps be “ Society of the Press Shilling.” 

3 The “ Press Day,” which takes place all over Spain every year on the . 
feast of SS. Peter and Paul, is celebrated by a General Communion, a 
solemn ceremony in the church, including a sermon on the Apostolate of 
the Press, and a collection for the Catholic press. The collection yields 
over £ 6,000 a year (1931). 

1 The Head Office is at 5 Rue Bayard, Paris viii e . 




staffs for all its papers and magazines, which numbered 
thirty before the war. It has branches and committees 
over all France, and a governing administration in Paris . 1 

Conclusion. — The associations which we have briefly 
described are a few typical examples of the multitudes of 
social organisations which exist and continue to increase. 
Very many of the people’s needs in such matters as 
education, insurance, banking, agricultural and industrial 
training, public libraries, the Press, etc., which in other 
countries are provided by the State at great expense, and 
too often very inefficiently, or are in the hands of non- 
Catholic or neutral bodies, to the injury and peril of Catholic 
interests, are in many continental Catholic countrios now 
supplied by these Catholic associations . 2 

1 Cf. International Handbook, p. 23. 

2 If the framework of the social organism in Ireland is to be refashioned 
in accordance with Catholic ideals (and only such a refashioning can save 
the Catholic nation of Ireland from extinction) a strong Catholic Press 
must be built up, and a network of Catholic associations, such as we have 
described, gradually formed under the guidance of the Church. A strong 
and widespread movement for such a purpose is probably at present the 
country's most urgent need. 




From the brief examination of the social doctrines and 
social conditions of Europe during the past two thousand 
years, w hich form the matter of the First Part of the present 
work, one may gather that the whole system of Christian 
civilisation centres round a few fundamental principles. 
If these or any of them are disregarded, the temporal 
happiness of the people will not be realised. These prin- 
ciples refer to the practical recognition of God’s supreme 
authority in public as well as private life ; the essential 
dignity and rights of human personality ; the sacredness 
and integrity of family life, and the natural and therefore 
divinely ordained institution of the State. 

In actual fact the principles set out above have not been 
followed, for any long period of time, except under the 
authority and guidance of the Catholic Church. They are 
in large part ignored among non-Christian nations, and in 
countries which have rejected the Church’s authority, the 
fruits of Christian civilisation which previously existed tend 
to disappear in proportion as the Catholic tradition is lost. 

In the Second Part of our treatise we shall try to analyse 
these principles more fully and examine some of their more 
important applications in the public life of the State. For it 
is with the State that Social Science has primarily to deal. 
We shall therefore first discuss the material elements of 
which the State is made up — viz., the human Individual 
and the Family. In connection with the latter we shall 
also discuss the relations of Employer and Employed and 
the Social Status of Women. In the next place we shall 
deal with the State itself, its natural constitution and 
functions ; and the ties which unite its members into one 
moral whole — viz., Justice, Charity and Piety (or Patriotism). 
Finally, we shall treat briefly of the Church and its functions 
in reference to social well-being and the due relations between 
Church and State . 1 

1 To complete the treatise a Third Part would be required which, how- 
ever, is not included in the present work. In that part certain questions 
of special importance which arc touched on only briefly or incidentally 
in the present volume would receive fuller and more detailed treatment. 
Such questions would include the Distribution of Property, Municipal 
Organisation, Industrial Unions, Wages, Co-operation, Interest and Usury, 
Money, Taxation, and Catholic Social Action. 




Although it is true that the natural and primary unit 
in the State is not the individual, but the family, the 
family itself is made up of individual persons ; moreover, 
there are in the State, many men and women, emancipated 
from parental control and still unmarried. Hence the 
individual person is the fundamental element in all civil 
society. The institution of the State as well as that of the 
family is founded ultimately upon men’s individual needs 
and natural attributes. The individual and the family are 
both prior to the State, which has been ordained by Nature 
to supplement individual weakness, and to assist the family 
in providing for the temporal happiness of the persons that 
compose it. 

Hence, in order to understand the natural constitution 
and functions of the State, and of the family, one must first 
understand the nature of human personality ; and the 
essential rights and duties attaching to it. These we shall 
now discuss. 

Art. 1 — Human Personality 1 

The Civic Body and the Human Body Compared. — In these 
days of materialistic philosophy and false individualism, 
when the dignity and rights of human personality are so 
often ignored, it will be helpful to keep before the mind the 
idea of the Christian State as conceived and largely realised 
in mediaeval times under the guidance of the Catholic 
Church, and put forward in our day by the Supreme Pontiff 2 

1 Cf. Castelein — Droit Nature l, Theses 3, 4 and 5 ; Meyer — Institutio 
Juris Naturalis (Fribourg, 1906), part i ; Rickaby — Moral Philosophy, 
part i, chap, ii ; Donat — Ethica Generalis (Innsbruck, I92t). Costa- 
Rosetti — Philosophia M oralis, par. ii ; Brouad — Petit Catechisme Social 
du Democrate (Bloud and Gay, Paris, 1908). 

2 Cf. Pius XI — Quadragesimo Anno, p. 4t, 42 ; also Leo XIII — Rerum 
Novarum, p. 142. 




as the model upon which the modern States must be re- 
organised, if the chaos of the class war is to be remedied. 
The ideal Christian State may be compared in some ways 
to the organism of the living body. Every portion of the 
living body, every organ and nerve and muscle, has its 
peculiar function in providing for the support and develop- 
ment of the whole body, which in turn contributes from its 
vital stores all that each organ or part requires for its own 
upkeep and healthy action. The functions of no two parts 
are precisely the same, nor do any two organs require an 
equal expenditure of vital energy for their support. Each 
part contributes according to its nature and capacity to 
the maintenance of the bodily vitality, and each receives 
supplies of blood and vital energy in proportion to its needs. 

So it is to a certain degree in the organism of the Christian 
State, whose parts and members are the different individuals, 
families and larger civic units that compose it. These are 
muted into one whole by the moral bonds of Social Justice 
and Charity. Each contributes to the common good accord- 
ing to his or its capacity and receives from the common 
store assistance and protection in proportion to need. 

The Essential Difference Between Them. — Between the 
organism of the human body, however, and that of the 
State there is one fundamental difference, which pagan 
philosophy and the philosophy of many modern schools 
ignore ; and this is the point of the comparison that im- 
mediately concerns us here. 

The organs and parts of the human body belong essentially 
to a greater whole. They have no special end or purpose of 
their own, distinct from those of the body to which they 
belong ; and therefore no rights independent of the rights 
of the human person that owns them. The claim, if we 
may speak analogically, which the eye or the hand pos- 
sesses to its due share of blood and vital energy from the 
body, rests solely upon the need of preserving that body 
in a state of healthy efficiency. Hence, no limits can be set 
to the demands which the human being may make, should 
need require, upon any part or faculty of his bodily organism. 
Even a limb may be amputated or an arm worked till it 
become permanently useless. 

It is quite otherwise in the State, whose ultimate purpose 


is not the good, or seeming good, of the body politic, but 
that of the individual members that compose it. These 
latter being persons, and having each a destiny of his own 
and a purpose in life far transcending his position in the 
social organism, can never be made into mere instruments 
for promoting the interests of any other person or thing 
in the created universe. Hence the State is meant wholly 
and entirely for the good of the individual members, not the 
members far the State. The sole end and purpose of the 
State is to assist each and every person within it in his 
efforts to attain to perfection and temporal happiness . 1 

Non-Christian Attitude towards the Individual — (a) The 
Pagan Attitude. — The wide divergence of view between 
Christian and non-Christian jurists in their conception of 
the State is rooted in their different views of the nature 
and rights of the human individual. The pagans of ancient 
Greece and Rome, whose teachings have partially re- 
appeared in the non-Christian philosophy and jurisprudence 
of our own days, measured a man’s dignity and rights 
principally or solely by the amount of material goods he 
controlled. The man himself, despoiled of his belongings, 
was little better than nothing. Hence the slave was re- 
garded as a mere chattel, devoid of personal rights, and 
meant essentially for his master’s good. Even the freeman, 
if poor, was treated with supreme contempt, and, in practice, 
reduced almost to a state of servility. Infanticide and 
abortion were freely practised, and were formally recom- 
mended even by such philosophers as Plato and Aristotle, 
in the interests, as they understood it, of the public good. 

Many of these doctrines are revived in our own times. 
Thus non-Christian philosophers of the Aristocratic school, 
such as the German Nietzsche, openly reject the essential 
independence of human personality, in their doctrine of the 
“ superman,” for whose leisured well-being other men are 
bound to toil. Again, abortion is formally legalised in 
Soviet Russia. In the unchristian social theories of 
Eugenics and Euthanasia, and in several tendencies of the 
modern unchristian state, the inalienable rights of the 
human person are violated or made subservient to the 

1 Cf. Castelcin, op. at., p. 066. 



supposed good of an all-absorbing entity called the State 
or Humanity. 

( b ) The Liberals’ Attitude. — The Liberals, while upholding 
in theory their doctrine (which, as explained by them, is 
false and exaggerated) of liberty and equality for every 
individual, disregard in practice the dignity and rights of 
human personality ; and have in fact reduced the vast 
majority of the people to a state of misery and dependence, 
which Pope Leo XIII describes as “ little better than 
slavery.” For, in the capitalist system of economy, which 
is the natural outcome of Liberal philosophy, most of the 
activities of the State are made subservient to the pro- 
duction of wealth. The worker, bereft of productive 
property, and thus left without an opportunity of labouring 
for his support except with the consent of the capitalist 
proprietor, is handed over to the almost unchecked control 
of men, often unscrupulous and unchristian, whose only 
interest in him is as a producer of wealth. 

According to the capitalist ideal, that State is accounted 
most prosperous and most civilised which can show the 
greatest amount of production, the mightiest hoard of 
accumulated millions, the largest fleet and the strongest 
army. But what of the human individuals that compose 
the State ? Ho they, each and all, enjoy the peace and 
prosperity to which they have a natural claim, or are they, 
through no fault of theirs, debarred from a fair opportunity 
of happiness and self-development ? Such questions do 
not trouble the financial magnates or the bureaucratic rulers, 
too often the mere creatures of the financiers, in a system in 
which economics and government are divorced from 
Christian teaching, and the claims of God and the dignity of 
the human person ignored. 

(c) The Socialists’ Attitude. — The Socialists, while pro- 
fessing to provide fully for man’s material interests, would, 
by making him the slave of an all-absorbing State, rob him 
of his natural independence, and of some of his most sacred 
personal rights. Ignoring, no less than the Liberals, the 
laws of morality and the claims of the Creator, they would 
also destroy or fatally lower man’s natural dignity. For 
in their social system even if it could attain the success at 



which they aim, the individual, no longer responsible for his 
own well-being, would be degraded almost to the level of 
the well-fed, contented, irresponsible animal. 

Christian Concept of Human Personality. — The Christian, 
differing from all these, sees in man and, above all, in man’s 
immortal soul, incomparably the most precious thing on 
earth, and the one for whose good all other things on earth 
living and inanimate are ordained. Stamped with the image 
of the Godhead, redeemed by the Precious Blood of the 
Son of God, predestined to an eternal life of intimate union 
with God, clothed (in fact, or, at least, in God’s intention 
and desire) with sanctifying grace, which makes man a 
sharer in God’s nature and heir to God’s kingdom, the 
human soul gives to man a place of dignity in the created 
universe with which nothing material can compare. This 
dignity, which gives him a worth that is almost divine, 
belongs inseparably to every human individual of both 
sexes and every age and every country and race. As a 
natural attribute of his spiritual soul, man enjoys freedom 
of will, which makes him master of his own actions, and 
personally responsible for the attaining of his own end. 

From man’s nature, and especially from his eternal 
destiny and the freedom of his will, spring the great pre 
rogatives which are inherent in the human individual, 
giving him his dignity and essential independence, and 
forbidding that he be ever made a mere instrument for 
promoting another’s good. Man is a •person . He has 
rights and duties. 

Foundation of Rights and Duties 1 — (a) Man’s Eternal 
Destiny. — Each man’s soul is created directly by God ; and 
each and every man is destined by his Creator for a life 
of happiness to be found in the perfect development and 
activity of all his faculties. This life of happiness will be 
realised in the intimate, supernatural union of his soul with 
God for ever. 

This essential destiny and purpose of man’s life belong 

1 Cf. Castclcin, loo. cit. ; Meyer, op. oil., pars, ii ; Costa-Rosetti, loo. oil. ; 
Donat — Ethica Specialis, sec. i ; Cath. Encyclop., arts. “ Right," “ Duty," 
etc. ; Ryan and Millar — The State and the Church (London, Macmillan, 1924), 
chaps, xiii-xiv. 



inalienably to every human being. Every one has to attain 
to it by his own personal efforts aided by the divine grace, 
and by the co-operation which society affords. Hence, every 
man is bound by obligations, to which all other considera- 
tions are subordinate, and against which not even the closest 
human ties can prevail, to fit himself by his actions for that 
eternal life. 

( b ) His Human Perfectibility. — Meanwhile man has to 
live also a human life on earth. His natural faculties and 
powers are eminently capable of activity and higher per- 
fection, even in this life ; and he finds his temporal happiness 
in the due development and well-ordered exercise of these 
powers. To this human happiness man has a natural 
claim, with the essential limitations that his eternal 
interests must always receive first consideration, and that 
the similar claims of others must not be unduly interfered 

“ The natural capabilities of every individual consist in 
the powers of body, sense, intellect and will. The body 
under proper conditions will grow to the full vigour of man 
or woman, with a persistence of force in successive genera- 
tions, which is one of the splendours of natural providence. 
The intellect, though its quality may vary in no small 
degree in different persons, is yet capable under favourable 
circumstances of a good average of attainments and real 
culture, such as we meet in well-educated men and women. 
The will — notwithstanding the lower impulses, the constant 
drag of indolence, the blind impulse of sense, the attraction 
of harmful example, and the handicap of ignorance — is 
capable, under suitable circumstances, of reaching a standard 
of moral rectitude which, even when not heroic, should 
compel the admiration of all .” 1 

(c) His Innate Desire of Well-being. — Besides the instinct 
of self-preservation, which man has in common with all 
animals, nature has given to him an active, indestructible 
tendency and instinct, included in his desire of happiness 
and well-being, to develop all these natural faculties and 
powers. And to their development and well-ordered 

1 Parkinson, op. cit., pp. 31, 32. 



exercise reason tells us man has a natural claim ; and that 
he is the victim of wrong if this claim is not respected by 

(d) God’s Ordinance in Creating the Earth for Man’s Use. — 

Again : God has given to all men the earth and all that 
it contains, in order that by their labour upon it they may 
each and all have a means of developing their natural 
powers and of living a becoming human life. Hence every 
man has a natural claim to his due place on the earth’s 
surface, and cannot be legitimately excluded from access 
to his fair proportion of the goods of nature. 

Art. 2 — Rights and Duties 

From all these considerations there emerge the notions 
of right and duty. Rights and duties are the natural 
attributes of personality, and can belong only to persons. 
The lower animals, being created solely for man’s use and 
benefit, cannot have rights, 1 and, being bereft of free will, 
are incapable of duties. 

Meaning of Right. — A right means something that is due 
to a person to complete, as it were, and round off his 
personality. It is defined by the philosophers as a moral 
power which a person has ancl which other persons are hound 
to respect, to do something, or retain something, or exact some- 
thing from another (Personae facultas moralis, inviolabilis, 
faciendi, retinendi, exigendi aliquid). By the expression, 
moral power, philosophers mean to convey that the person 

1 Although the lower animals have not rights ancl arc ordained by God 
for man's use and benefit (Gen. i and ix. 3), it would be a violation of God's 
law to destroy animal life or to inflict pain on animals without sufficient 
cause. Our Divine Lord says of the sparrows that " not one of them is 
forgotten before God " (Luke xii. 6) ; and several of God's saints were very 
remarkable for tenderness towards the animal creation. It betrays, how- 
ever, an absence of the sense of proportion and suggests a want of 
realisation of the dogma of the Redemption to make a fetish (as non- 
Catholics often do) of kindness to animals or to confound one's duties of 
charity towards one's fellowmcn with the obligation of not abusing the 
animal creation. Animals at worst, owing to the absence in them of the 
power of reflection, are incapable of suffering comparable to the sufferings 
of rational beings, and the Christian who realises the worth and dignity 
of the human soul, the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption will 
never forget the infinite difference between the lower animal and the 
human person. 



may, without violating any law or obligation perform the 
action or retain in his possession the thing in question 
or exact it from another. The term, however, does not 
imply that he is physically capable of doing so. Hence, 
although a person may be impeded by another in the 
exercise of his right, the right itself remains, appealing as 
it were, to the moral conscience of men that the unjust 
obstacle be removed. 

A right implies an obligation on the part of others not 
to impede its exercise, but does not necessarily include an 
obligation on the possessor’s part to exercise the moral 
power which the right confers. For some rights may be 
resigned even perpetually. 

Meaning of Duty — Personal Duties. — Akin to rights are 
duties, which are another attribute of personality. Duty 
is a moral obligation of doing or not doing something. The 
term, moral obligation, may be explained by saying that the 
person on whom the obligation lies, while physically able 
to disregard it, violates the natural law, and disobeys God 
if he does so. 

Man may be regarded as an independent person or as a 
member of a family, or as a member of the State ; and in 
each of these capacities he has rights and duties. We treat 
here only of the rights and duties which belong to man in 
his individual capacity. The consideration of his domestic 
and civic relations will come later. Again, we are concerned 
here only with the rights and duties which are founded on 
the natural law. We have nothing to say of those coming 
from the positive law, whether of Church or State. 

Juridical and Non-Juridical Duties. — Although every right 
implies a duty upon all others not to interfere with the 
exercise of the right, the converse is not true. For even 
of men’s duties towards one another, with which the science 
of Sociology is primarily concerned, only some imply that 
the person towards whom the duty lies has a right to its 
fulfilment. These latter are called juridical duties. The 
duties that do not imply any such right are called non- 
juridical or purely ethical duties. Thus a man’s duty to 
pay his lawful debts is juridical ; while duties of charity, 
such as the obligation to give alms to a person in need, are 



non-juridical duties ; because the person who is the object 
of the act of charity cannot complain that any right of his 
is violated, if the duty is disregarded. 

We shall see later that social duties, such as the duties 
of citizens to co-operate for the common good, and those 
of rulers to secure by just laws, impartially and efficiently 
administered, a due proportion of peace and prosperity 
for all are juridical ; and that their neglect implies real 
injustice. Hence the cry of the disinherited calling upon 
the rulers and proprietors to fulfil their social duties, “ We 
demand justice and not charity,” is founded upon true 

Perfect and Imperfect Rights. — Some rights are so closely 
bound up with man’s nature and personality that they are 
quite indispensable, for the attaining of his end. The 
exercise of such rights cannot be suspended or curtailed 
without the person’s free consent. Nay, in the case of some 
perfect rights the right cannot be validly surrendered even 
by the free will of the person that possesses it. In this 
connection Leo XIII writes : 

" To consent to any treatment which is calculated to defeat 
the end and purpose of man’s being is beyond his right ; he 
cannot give up his soul to servitude ; for it is not man’s own 
rights which are here in question, but the rights of God.” 1 

Thus a man cannot give to another the right to take his 
life, nor can he make a valid contract binding himself to 
some course of action unworthy of his human dignity. 
Neither can any law validly impose upon him conditions 
which in the concrete are unjust or inhuman. The following 
passage from Leo XIII further illustrates this principle : 

“ In all agreements between masters and work people there 
is always the condition expressed or understood that there should 
be allowed proper rest for soul and body. To agree in any other 
sense would be against what is right and just ; for it can never 
be just or right to require on the one side, or to promise on the 
other, the giving up of duties, which a man owes to his God, 
and to himself.” 2 

Hence Tennyson’s conception of the ideal soldier would 

1 Return Novarum, p. 155. 2 lb., pp. 156, 157. 



not bear analysis as a description of the true Christian 
warrior : 

" Theirs not to make reply ; 

Theirs not to reason why ; 

Theirs but to do and die.” 

For no one can fully surrender personal responsibility for 
his acts ; and no obligation, military or otherwise, can 
deprive a man of all personal rights. In other words, men 
have rights (implying duties) that are inalienable. These 
are sometimes called perfect rights. 

There are, on the other hand, several classes of natural 
rights, which, although in normal circumstances helpful to 
man for the attainment of his end, are not quite indis- 
pensable for that purpose. The legitimate exercise of such 
rights is limited by the equal rights of others, and may, 
if the public good requires, be curtailed by civil law. Thus 
the exercise of a person’s natural right to manufacture a 
certain type of food or drink, to wear clothes of a peculiar 
fashion, to publish or even express certain opinions or views, 
may be justly forbidden by law, should it cause injury or 
unfair tomptation to others. In the same way, limits may 
be set to a man’s natural right to acquire property, when 
the unchecked exercise of the right becomes a danger to 
the community. 

It is clear, however, that the interference of public 
authority must be kept within reasonable bounds ; for the 
lawful 1 exercise of one’s natural liberty cannot be justly 
curtailed without a proportionately grave cause founded 
upon the greater good of the community. Those rights 
which are natural to man, but whose exercise may be 
curtailod or partially suspended, owing to their apparent 
clash with the rights of others, are sometimes called 
imperfect rights. 

It is often difficult to decide in practice what particular 
rights are perfect and what imperfect, and when the exercise 
of imperfect rights may be lawfully suspended. We shall 
touch further down on some of the problems connected with 

1 Liberty must not be confounded with licence to do wrong. No person 
and no moral body has or can have the right to do wrong. From the definition 
of right given above it is clear that the clause in question involves a con- 
tradiction in terms. 


this question. It is, however, necessary to understand, 
even at this stage, that the mere fact of a person being 
unjustly defrauded of his rights does not always imply that 
he may, in disregard of existing civil laws, proceed straight- 
way to exercise the rights which are unjustly withheld. 
For such a course of action would frequently cause, at least 
indirectly, still greater injustice to others. The sufferers 
may, and should, unite to secure remedy by peaceful means. 
And no one may legitimately oppose reforms which justice — 
even legal or distributive justice — requires. 

Inborn and Acquired Rights. — Again, men’s natural 
personal rights may be inborn (congenital) or acquired. The 
former class, which are derived from man’s nature, belong 
to all. The latter are the natural result of some contingent 
fact, such as the exercise of human activity. Thus, one’s 
right to life and freedom is inborn ; so is one’s right to 
acquire property. On the other hand, a person’s right to 
the ownership of his own particular property is an acquired 
right. For it is the natural effect of some historical fact, 
such as the actions of himself or another, which connects 
that property with him in such a way that the natural law 
now ordains it for his exclusive use. 

Human Equality and Inequality. — In their inborn or 
congenital rights, as well as in the dignity of their human 
personality, and in all the attributes attached to that 
personality, all men are equal. For human nature, with 
its supernatural destiny which is the origin of these rights 
is the same in all men. But because of the diversity of 
men’s natural capabilities and needs, and the varying nature 
of the facts and circumstances that affect them, men’s 
acquired rights are very unequal. Leo XIII, treating of 
this subject, writes : 

“It is impossible to reduce society to one dead level. 
Socialists may in that intent do their utmost, but all striving 
against nature is vain. There naturally exist among mankind, 
manifold differences of the most important kind ; people differ 
in capacity, skill, health, strength ; and unequal fortune is a 
necessary result of unequal conditions .” 1 

1 Rerum Novarum, p. 14 1. 



On the same subject Pius X writes : 

“ Human society as God established it, is composed of unequal 
elements, just as the members of the human body are unequal. 
To make them all equal is impossible, and would be the de- 
struction of society itself. . . . Consequently it is conformable 
to the order established by God, that in human society there 
should be princes and subjects, masters and men, rich and poor, 
learned and ignorant, nobles and plebeians, who, united by a 
bond of love, should help one another to attain their final end 
in Heaven, and their material and moral well-being on earth.” 1 

This inevitable inequality in human life is an admirable 
dispensation of Providence on men’s behalf. For it makes 
men need one another’s help, and so serves to strengthen 
the social body, making it easier for the members to merge 
into a compact whole. 

Duties and Rights in Relation to God, to Others and to 
One’s Self. — Men’s individual rights and duties may be 
classed under the three following heads : Men’s duties 

(including rights) in relation to God ; their duties towards 
each other ; and the rights and duties of self-preservation 
and self improvement. Men’s duties towards each other 
comprising the obligations of Justice and Charity we shall 
treat at length later on, when dealing with the State. The 
duties and rights relating to one’s self (viz., those of self- 
preservation and self-improvement) we reserve for the 
following chapter. We shall conclude the present chapter 
with a brief treatment of men’s duties in relation to God, 
which are included under the general heading of Religion. 

Art. 3 — Duty of Religion 2 

Man’s first and most important duty, including inalienable 
rights in regard to its fulfilment, is the duty of religion, 
which in practice is identical with man’s right and duty 
to tend towards his last end. 

“ Of all the duties man has to fulfil,” writes Leo XIII, “ that, 
without doubt, is the chiefest and holiest, which commands him 
to worship God with devotion and piety. . . . No true virtue 

1 Fin Valla Prima (1903), p. 183. 

2 Castelein, op. cit.. Thesis i; Cath. Encyclop., art. “Religion” ; Godts — 
Scopuli Vitandi, cap. xiv— xxiii ; Cuthbert — Catholic Ideals in Social Life , 
part ii. 




can exist without religion ; for moral virtue is concerned with 
those things that lead to God as man’s supreme and ultimate 
good ; and therefore religion, which (as St. Thomas says) ‘ per- 
forms those actions, which are directly and immediately ordained 
for the divine honour,’ 1 rules and directs all virtues.” 2 

Its Meaning and Foundation, — Religion includes all the 
obligations that spring from man’s relations with God. 
God is man’s Creator and the source of his being ; He is 
man’s last end and the object of his perfection and hap- 
piness ; He is man’s continual support and mainstay, 
without which, man, incapable of all activity or power 
would immediately lapse into nothing. The natural duty 
of religion, which corresponds to all these different relations, 
includes the knowledge and worship of God, and tho 
observance of the natural law as a divine ordinance. 

Religion as a Moral Duty, — Man is bound to know his 
duties to God ; and has an indefeasible right, valid against 
all who may oppose it, to be allowed or enabled to acquire 
that knowledge. Thus, children have an inalienable right 
to be taught their religion as the most important of all 
subjects of education. 

Man is bound to worship God by prayer and other interior 
acts of adoration ; and, because man’s nature is composite, 
including body as well as soul, exterior worship, such as 
vocal prayer and bodily acts of reverence, is also of 

In the third place, man is bound to observe the moral 
law, as the ordinance of God. For God is the Author of 
nature, and therefore the source and sanction of the natural 

We may add that the family and the State, both natural 
units, are also bound by the natural law to give worship to 
God in their social or corporate capacity, 3 and the rulers 
of the State are bound to make its laws and administration 
in harmony with the natural and divine law. For, as 
Leo XIII again writes : 

“ Society, no less than individuals, owns gratitude to God, 
who gave it being and maintains it, and whose evcr-bounteous 
goodness enriches it with countless blessings.” 4 

1 Summa, 2 a , 2®, Q. lxxxi, a. 6. 2 Libertas, Pmstantissimvtn (1888), p. 82. 

3 lb., p. 83. 4 Immortal? Dei (1883), p. 48. 



Finally, seeing that God has established on earth a 
society, called the Church, to direct and assist man in 
matters appertaining to religion, with the precept that all 
men become members of that society and obey its laws, 
every one has a duty and an indefeasible right to belong 
to the Church of Christ and to obey its laws . 1 

Its Influence upon Temporal Well-being. — The private 
and public worship of the Creator has been, down almost 
to our own times, a fundamental principle in the laws and 
customs of all great nations known to history ; it has per- 
meated and dominated their public life as well as the private 
life of the citizens. This is true of the non-Christian as well 
as the Christian nations — of the Chinese, the Persians, tho 
Hindus, the ancient Greeks and Romans, the Mohammedans, 
as well as the Christian nations of Europe and the East. 

In the case of the non-Christian nations and of those that 
have lost, wholly or in part, their Christian faith, their 
religious worship is indeed intermingled with much error 
and superstition, and not unfrequently, even disfigured by 
immoral practices. These go far to counteract the effect 
which religion naturally has in elevating the people’s lives. 
Still, history, when carefully read, conveys no more striking 
lesson than the influence of religion on the life of man. 
When due allowance is made for counteracting causes, which 
may interfere for a while with the working of the general 
law, the great fact stands out that nations are prosperous 
and happy in direct proportion to the living influence of 
religion among tho people ; while the decay or weakening 
of religious observance and belief inevitably brings in its 
wake the loss of the nation’s prosperity, the sterility of its 
genius, and the gradual enslavement of its people. Examples 
of this truth may be found in the history of the Romans 
under the Empire, in the rise and fall of the Mohammedan 
nations, and in the state of European society to-day. 

Hence, even if we abstract from the eternal interests of 
the individual (which are always supreme) and regard 
merely his temporal prosperity, nothing can make up to 
a people for the loss of religious influence. It is a more 
important factor in temporal happiness than political 

1 Immortale Dei, p. 49. 



liberty or national wealth or imperial power, or all these 

" Religion,” writes Leo XIII, “ of its essence is wonderfully 
helpful to the State. ... It charges rulers to be mindful of 
their duty, to govern without injustice or severity. ... It 
admonishes subjects to be obedient to lawful authority as to the 
ministers of God, and it binds them to their rulers not merely 
by obedience but by reverence and affection. . . . We need 
not mention how greatly religion conduces to pure morals, and 
pure morals to liberty. Reason shows, and history confirms the 
fact, that the higher the morality of states, the greater are the 
liberty and wealth and power which they enjoy.” 1 

Examples of the Foregoing. — As an example of this bene- 
ficent influence, compare the Irish peasant of the 19th 
century with the Englishman of the same social class, as 
he then was, and still is, in those districts where religious 
belief and practice have died out. The Irish peasant, 
practically deprived of civic rights, robbed well-nigh of 
everything that human tyranny could take from him, ill- 
clad, insufficiently fed, without secure tenure even of the 
miserable hovel that sheltered him, was then probably the 
most oppressed and impoverished human type in Europe. 
The English peasant, on the other hand, had full political 
rights, fair material conditions, and the status of a free 
man in a nation that ruled one of the most powerful and 
extensive empires that history has known. Yet, in all the 
best things of life, domestic happiness, contentment, con- 
sciousness of his human dignity, moral and intellectual 
culture, those who have studied the conditions of both do 
not hesitate to decide that the Irish peasant enjoyed 
immeasurably the greater share of temporal happiness ; 
and that his advantage in that respect over his English 
neighbour was due almost entirely to his Catholic faith. 2 

Another familiar illustration of the same matter may be 
found in the present state of the people of the United States 
of America. The nation has practically all the elements 
that should make for its temporal happiness, except religion. 
It is probably the wealthiest nation in the world. It enjoys 
full political freedom ; and all the people possess equal 

1 Libertas, Prcestantissimum , p. 84. 

2 See Studies of Family Life, by C, S. Devas (Burns and Oates, 1886). 



rights before the law. But, with the exception of the 
Catholic portion of the population — about a sixth of the 
whole — the nation is very irreligious. 

The result is that crime and human misery have reached 
appalling proportions. The percentages of divorces, murders 
and suicides are by far the highest in the world, the latter 
percentage (viz., of suicides) having reached the unpre- 
cedented figure of 19 per 100,000. 1 There is comparatively 
little domestic life or family affection. Extreme corruption 
prevails in public life. Most of the nation’s wealth is con- 
trolled by an inconsiderable fraction of its citizens, with 
the result that immense numbers (which tend to increase 
year by year, and in recent years seem to have sometimes 
reached about 7,000,000 workers) are deprived of an oppor- 
tunity of remunerative labour. Hence, although the 
country abounds in wealth, many millions, including indeed 
a large percentage of the total population, are insufficiently 
fed, badly clad and badly housed. 2 

Hence, any action of a civil government tending to lessen 
the influence of religion upon the people is to be reprobated, 
not merely because it is opposed to the duty of the State 
towards the Creator and violates besides the subjects’ in- 
defeasible rights connected with eternal happiness, but also 
because it tends to the ruin of their temporal happiness, 
which it is the primary duty of the State to promote. 3 

1 Cf. America (Aug. gth, 1930), pp. 410, 411, where Dr. H. Emerson, 
speaking at the International Congress on Mental Hygiene, held at 
Washington (May, 1930), is recorded to have stated that suicides in 
U.S.A. had increased from 5 per 100,000 in i860 to 19 per 100,000 in 1930. 
This latter figure would mean about 800 suicides per year for a population 
of the size of the present population of Ireland ! 

2 Cf. Studies (June, 1930), for an article by Dr. J. A. Ryan of Washington 
University, entitled " Poverty in the United States,” in which the writer 
shows that the normal wage there is far below the level of a living wage. 
Cf. also Belliot, op. cit., pp. 176 ff. In an address delivered at Yale 
University, U.S.A. , May 26th, 1927, by Sir George Newman, Chief Medical 
Officer of the British Ministry of Health, the lecturer stated that in the 
year 1925, 22,000 deaths had occurred in U.S.A. from suicide and murder ; 
and about as many more as a result of motor accidents. A Committee of 
the American Bar, appointed to investigate existing conditions, reported 
in 1928 that the "criminal statistics in U.S.A. are, as far as crimes of 
violence are concerned, worse than in any other civilised country " (cited 
in The Irish Times, June nth, 1929). 

3 On the whole question of the influence of religion on society and social 
well-being, see Castc-lein, op. cit., pp. 36-39. 



From a well-ordered love of one’s self, which natural 
instinct and right reason teach to all, springs a third class 
of individual rights and duties. These comprise the rights 
and duties of self-preservation, and those of perfection or 
self -development . 

Under the former are included the right and duty of self- 
defence, while such crimes as suicide, duelling, and the un- 
necessary exposure of one’s life to danger are forbidden. 
The duty of self-preservation also implies the right and the 
duty to secure for one’s self the goods, both material and 
spiritual, which are essential for human life. These com- 
prise knowledge, personal liberty, a good reputation, and 
material possessions. A certain amount of all these is 
ordinarily indispensable for living a becoming human life. 

The duties of perfection or self-development include, in 
the first place, the obligation of subordinating, by the 
practice of temperance, meekness and fortitude, the inferior 
appetites to the control of reason and will ; and secondly, 
the duty and right of developing more and more fully one’s 
natural powers — physical, intellectual and moral. 

Of these manifold rights and duties, which it is outside 
our present scope to discuss fully, we shall delay only upon 
three, which are of special importance to the student of 
Social Science. These are : (a) The duty and right of work 
or labour ; (6) the right of acquiring property ; and (c) the 
right of freedom in chosing one’s work and state of life. 

Art. 1 — Duty and Right of Labour 3 

Duty of Labour Proved from Man’s Nature. — All are 

bound by a precept of the natural law to exercise their 
powers by work ; and no one can be justly excluded from a 

1 Cf. Meyer, op. tit., vol. ii. Theses v-ix ; Costa-Rosetti, op. tit., Theses 
86-96 ; Hickey, op. cit,, pars, ii, cap. iii. 

2 Castelein, op. tit., Thesis 5 ; Sabatier — L'Eglise et Le Travail Manuel 
(Bloud and Gay, Paris, 1919) ; Koch-Preuss, op. cit., vol. iii, chap, ii ; 
Cuthbert, op. cit., pp. 74-84. 



fair opportunity of doing so. That labour is a precept of 
the natural law, obligatory upon all, is clear from the nature 
of man and the circumstances of human life. The lower 
animals have comparatively few needs, and the means to 
satisfy the few they have are supplied by nature, ready to 
hand. Their faculties develop spontaneously, and without 
conscious effort on their part. They have no desires except 
that of satisfying their animal propensities, which they do 
under the impulse of blind instinct. 

Man, on the other hand, is born with many needs which 
cannot be supplied without labour. His best powers are 
developed only by sustained and painful effort. With in- 
activity and idleness, every human faculty languishes and 
tends to decay. To supply the body with food and clothing, 
to nourish the mind with truth, to maintain the will in the 
way of righteousness, to save the soul from ennui and 
despair, to perfect and develop all his God-given powers, 
labour is a first essential for man. “ Man,” writes Pius XI, 
“ is born to labour as the bird to fly .” 1 

Labour Essential to Satisfy Men’s Needs. — Besides, God 
has assigned to man the earth and its hidden treasures, and 
the living things that dwell on it to satisfy his needs. 
“Fill the earth and subdue it ,” 2 God has told him ; and 
again, “ Everything that moveth and liveth shall be meat for 
you ; even as the green herbs, I have delivered them all to 
you .” 3 But nature has so arranged that all these treasures 
are made available for man only by human toil. Hence, 
Leo XIII treating of private property and the dignity of 
labour, writes : 

“ That which is required for the preservation of life, and for 
life’s well-being, is produced in great abundance from the soil ; 
but not until man has brought it into cultivation, and expended 
upon it his solicitude and skill .” 4 

Earth’s rich harvests of fruits, the mineral resources and 
precious stones hidden in its depths, the living things that 
people its plains and its seas, and fill the air around it, all 
necessary or useful for man’s life, can be obtained only by 
the exercise of human intelligence, the efforts of the human 

1 Quadragesimo Anno, 1931 (C. T. S. edit.), p. 30. 

2 Genesis, i. 28. *Ib., ix. 3. 4 Return Novarutn, p. 137. ^ 


will, and the stress of bodily toil. “ In the sweat of thy 
brow thou shall eat bread,'’ 1 has been spoken as the universal 
law for all. 

Even such things as poetry, music and art and the great 
products of human genius are each and all the fruits of long 
and tedious effort. No great cause ever attained success 
without much human suffering and toil. 

Imposed as a Duty by the Christian Law. — Again and 
again the inspired writer denounces in the holy scriptures 
the folly and crime of idleness, “the mother of all vices.” 
Thus we read in the Book of Proverbs ; “Go to the ant, 0 
sluggard, and consider her ways, and learn wisdom ; which 
although she hath no guide nor master nor captain, provideth 
meat for herself in the summer, and gathereth food for herself 
in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep O sluggard ? ” 2 

The life of the Son of God on earth was one of continual 
labour ; and during most of that life He worked as an artisan, 
thereby giving by His divine example a new dignity to the 
manual worker’s calling. The Gospel history, as interpreted 
by Christian tradition implies that in the home of Nazareth 
where the Christian ideal of domestic life was realised, 
everybody was busy. Consequently, no duty is more 
stressed in Christian teaching than that of la bom - . “ If 
any man will not work neither let him eat,” says St. Paul. 3 
In the rules of all religious congregations, which the Catholic 
Church puts forward as containing a model of the more 
perfect Christian life, the obligation of constant labour and 
even precepts of manual work are always prominent features. 

Thus, labour is a duty of every individual ; and no State 
can prosper in which a considerable portion of the citizens 
shirk their duty of work : for as Pius XI writes : 

“ Universal experience teaches that no nation has ever yet 
risen from want and poverty to a better and loftier station, 
without the unremitting toil of all its citizens, both employers 
and employed.’’ 4 

In an organised society, composed of different social 
classes, the nature of the work will vary, but there is no 
place in the Christian State for a purely parasitical class 

1 Gen. iii. 19. 2 Prov. vi. 6-9. 

4 Quadragesimo Anno, p. 25. 

3 2 Thess. iii. 10. 


who live upon the labour of others without themselves 
making any adequate contribution to the common good. 

Special Value and Dignity of Manual Labour. — The Church 
defends and upholds in a special way the worth and dignity 
of manual labour. In fact, her attitude towards manual 
work, its dignity and its value, is a kind of counterpart of 
her attitude towards the institution of private property. 
The great encyclical Rerum Novarum, of Leo XIII, which 
is the classical defence of private property, is also in large 
part a eulogy of the dignity of manual labour. The Pope 
insists strongly on the important place the manual worker 
holds in the social organism, and on the indefeasible claim 
which he has to the special protection and assistance of 
the ruling authorities. Thus he writes : 

" Labour is not a thing to be ashamed of, if we lend ear to 
right reason and to Christian philosophy, but is to a man’s credit 
enabling him to earn his living in an honourable way.” 1 

Pius XI writes on the same matter : 

“ Is it not apparent that the huge possessions which con- 
stitute human wealth are begotten by and flow from the hands 
of the workingman, toiling either unaided or with the assistance 
of tools and machinery, which wonderfully intensify his 
efficiency ? ” 2 

The exercise of manual labour is of such fundamental 
importance for all the best interests of the community that 
one must regard that nation as diseased and ripe for decay in 
which the practice and esteem of manual toil have been lost 
or are on the decline. Hence, the ruling authorities are 
bound to encourage and emphasise the prestige of the 
manual labourer’s calling, and by protecting his interests 
encourage the younger generation to adopt manual labour 
as their profession in life. They should take means to 
multiply suitable homes for the workers with plots of land 
attached. The activities of speculators of all kinds which 
are unproductive, and which tend to lure the workers with 
the hopes of quick and easy gains, should be discouraged and 
as far as possible prohibited. Finally, in the educational 
system of the country every means should be adopted to 
inspire the children with the esteem of work and with a 

1 Rerum Novarum, p- 143. 2 Quadragesimo Anno, p. 25. 



due appreciation of the dignity and need of manual labour 
and of the solid happiness and content it brings. 

Right to Opportunity of Labour. — Seeing that labour is 
obligatory upon all, and has been appointed by God as a 
necessary means for securing one’s self-preservation and 
development, it is an obvious conclusion that all have a 
right to an opportunity of labour. Besides, since God has 
given the earth and its treasures to men that they may 
each and all satisfy their human needs therefrom, everyone 
has an inborn right to such access to the earth and its goods 
as is required to enable him to obtain the necessaries of life 
by working upon them. Consequently, if any are precluded 
through no fault of theirs from the exercise of that right, 
they are victims of injustice. 1 

Unemployment. — The modern phenomenon, called un- 
employment, which in reality means enforced idleness, i3 
the product of a social system which, though not in itself 
necessarily vicious, has, in its working, led to gross injustice. 
The earth’s resources are more than sufficient to supply the 
needs of all. They can be made available for man’s needs 
only by labour. Multitudes who are nulling and anxious 
to w r ork are in want of the necessaries of life ; and are denied 
a fair opportunity of securing by their labour these neces- 
saries for themselves and their families. 

“ Unemployment,” writes Pius XI, “ particularly if widespread 
or of long duration ... is a dreadful scourge : it causes misery 
and temptation to the labourer, ruins the prosperity of nations, 
and endangers public peace, order and tranquillity the world 
over.” 2 

The root of this fatal anomaly lies in the practical re- 
pudiation of the teachings of Christianity and the principles 
of the natural law by those who control the industrial life 
of the nations. For, according to these teachings and prin- 
ciples, economic activity should be organised with a view 
to provide adequately for the human needs of the population, 
not to minister to the avarice or ambition or luxury of the 

1 Cf. Brouard, op. cil., pp. 7-10 ; Macksey, op. cit., cap. iii. 

2 Quadragesitno Anno, p. 35. 


few. Ill actual fact, however, it occurs all too commonly 
that in the words of Pius XI : 

" Capital diverts business and economic activity entirely to 
its own arbitrary will, without any regard to the human dignity 
of the workers, the social character of economic life, social 
justice and the common good.” 1 

Thus, the natural resources of the country are held up 
and left undeveloped while the public are in want. Labour 
and energy are diverted from the production of the neces- 
saries to promote activities that are useless or even degrading. 
Finance and the monetary system, which should be in- 
struments to help and serve men, have become in large 
measure the masters of men’s activities, so that the 
happiness and lives of multitudes are sacrificed to the 
ambition or caprice of the financial rulers. It is a primary 
duty of the civil authorities to check these abuses, and 
secure by suitable legislation and administrative measures, 
that all the citizens are afforded a fair opportunity of 
securing a decent livelihood by their labour. 

Art. 2 — The Right to Acquire Property 2 

Importance of the Question. — The desire to acquire pro- 
perty is a fundamental instinct of human nature. 

" The practice of all ages,” writes Leo XIII, 3 “ has con- 
secrated the principle of private ownership as being pre-eminently 
in conformity with human nature, and as conducing in the most 
unmistakable manner to the peace and tranquillity of human 
existence. . . . The authority of the Divine Law adds its 
sanction, forbidding us in the severest terms to covet that which 
is another’s : thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife ; nor his 
house nor his field, nor his man servant, nor his maid servant, nor 
his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is his." 1 

The history of the human race proves that human per- 
sonality develops best, and true liberty and independence 
are realised most fully among a population of proprietors. 

1 Quadragesimo Anno, p. 45. 

2 Cf. Meyer, op. cit., vol. ii. Theses xxiv, xxv ; Costa-Rosetti, op. cit.. 
Theses 123-128; Donat, op. cit., sec. i, chap, iv; Kelleher — Private Owner- 
ship (Gill, Dublin, 1911) ; Castelein, op. cit., Thesis 8 ; Ryan — Distributive 
Justice ; Garriguet, op. cit., 2 iimc Partie, chaps, i— ix ; Cath. Encyclop., 
arts. “ Property," " Agrarianism,” “ Socialism.” 

3 Rerum Novarum, p. 138. 

4 Deuteronomy, v. 21. 



Hence the ideal, at which great statesmen from Solon of 
Athens to Leo XIII and Pius XI have aimed, is a State made 
up principally of flourishing and self-contained communities 
of small proprietors, and especially of small farmers or 
peasants . 1 To this ideal the Liberal economists, the financial 
overlords and the socialists of all shades of opinion are 
equally opposed. 

Its Precise Meaning. — In order to understand the precise 
meaning of the Right of Property, the reader must have a 
grasp of a few’ preliminary ideas. To begin with, there is 
question only of personal or individual rights ; such, namely, 
as belong to one in virtue of one’s human personality. We 
have already referred 2 to the system of Private ownership 
as essential, according to mediaeval teaching, for the efficient 
and peaceful working of society. Hence, the individual’s 
right to acquire property is assured by what the Scholastic 
philosophers call the “Law of the Nations” (“Jus 
Gentium ”), which ordains that the social organisations be 
founded on the system of Private, rather than of Communal, 
ownership. Our present purpose is to show that indepen- 
dently of social needs, prior to man’s becoming a member 
of any civic body or being subject to social laws, he has an 
inborn right to acquire by occupation, labour, or otherwise, 
the ownership of material goods. For, as Leo XIII and 
Pius XI lay down in almost identical terms : “ The right 
to possess private property is derived from nature, not 
from man .” 3 

Meaning of Ownership. — Individual ownership may be 
explained as implying such a relation or connection betw’een 
an individual person and certain goods that the person may 
not only legitimately use the goods for himself, but also 
within certain limits exclude all others from the use of them. 
Everybody has an inborn right to use the goods of nature 
for his needs, seeing that God has ordained these goods for 
all ; but that docs not imply that any individual has an 

1 Cf. Shove — The Fairy Ring of Commerce (Birmingham Distributist 
League, 1930). 

2 Cf. Supra, chap, vi, art. 1. 

3 Rerum Novarum, p. 159 ; cf. also Pius XI — Quadragesimo Anno, 
(C. T. S. edit., p. 20). 



inborn right to the ownership of such goods or of any par- 
ticular portion of them. So much is evident from the fact 
that although all men have an inborn right to the use of 
air and sunlight, nobody possesses or claims an exclusive 
right to any portion of them, seeing that they are unlimited 
in amount and incapable of being divided. 

The actual ownership of particular property does not 
come directly from nature, but from some contingent fact, 
such as occupation, labour, or inheritance. Hence, when 
we assert that man has a natural, inborn right to acquire 
ownership, we mean that it is a natural consequence of 
man’s personality that he should be able to establish such 
a connection between himself and certain external goods 
such as food, land, implements of labour, that in virtue of 
the natural law he has henceforward a right to their exclusive 
use. Apropos of this matter, St. Thomas writes : 

“ Community of property is said to belong to the natural law, 
not in the sense that the natural law prescribes that all things 
are to be held in common, and nothing by private ownership ; 
but rather in the sense that the [actual] division of property 
does not come from the natural law . . . consequently private 
ownership of property is not contrary to the natural law but is 
superadded to it by man’s arrangement.” 1 

Socialists’ Theory. — Marxian Socialists, whose theories we 
have already discussed, while usually allowing that men 
may acquire valid ownership of consumable goods, assert 
that individual ownership of productive property is immoral 
and invalid. Taking occasion of the appalling abuses to 
which political and economic Liberalism has led, and some, 
no doubt, really exasperated or alarmed by the capitalists’ 
monopolies, which in practice tend to nullify the inborn 
rights of great numbers of the people, the Socialist reformers 
propose that the ownership of all productive property 
should vest in the State or the municipalities or quasi- 
governmental bureaux. It would then be the duty of 
these latter to see that every individual has access to what- 
ever may be necessary or reasonably useful for him. 

Theory of Henry George.— Henry George (1839-1897), the 
American economist and author of the celebrated work, 

i 2 a , 2®, Q. 66 , a, 2. 



Progress and Poverty 1 (1879), although a vigorous opponent 
of Marxian Socialism, has put forward a theory concerning 
the ownership of land, which is sometimes called by the 
rather misleading term Agrarian Socialism. George held 
that the ownership of the soil belongs inalienably to the 
community as a whole, seeing that it was created by God 
for all. He will, however, allow the individual to enjoy the 
usufruct (with security of tenure and the right of trans- 
mitting to others) of any portion of the soil provided he 
pays to the community (viz., to the State) in the shape of 
taxes a rent representing the natural productivity of that 
particular piece of land plus the extra value it may have 
acquired owing to adventitious causes other than the labour 
of the occupier. 

The natural productivity must be paid for (according to 
George), since by the divine decree it belongs inalienably 
to the community ; and the adventitious increase of value 
must be paid for, because it too belongs to the community : 
in most cases it is actually produced by the community 
which, for instance, have built a town or a railway in the 
neighbourhood of that piece of land, or in some other way 
have increased its natural value. Even should the increase 
in value come from some natural cause independent of the 
action of the community (such as the change of the course 
of a river caused by an earthquake or a landslide), such 
increase, too, belongs by right to the community. For the 
latter (viz., the community) is the real owner and by the 
natural law res crescit domino (the natural increase of any- 
thing is the property of its owners). 

Economic Rent and the Single Tax System. — The annual 
amount corresponding to this natural productivity and the 
unearned increment of value, both of which in George’s 
view belong essentially to the community, are called the 
Economic Rent. According to his theory the huge sums 
(£35,000,000 or thereabouts) annually paid in rent to some 
eight thousand British landlords, are pure class robbery, and 
are the fundamental source of all the misery of the labouring 
classes. This Economic Bent should be taken over by the 

1 Kegan Paul, London, 1883. Cf. also the edition published by Dent 
& Sons in “ Everyman’s Library " scries (London and Toronto, 1921). 


State, and should take the place of all other State taxes, which 
would consequently be abolished. 

The system thus advocated is consequently termed the 
Single Tax System. We are not concerned here with the 
Single Tax System in itself as an economic proposal which 
shall be discussed later. We deal at present only with 
George’s principle (of which the Single Tax as a method of 
taxation is in reality quite independent), that the dominion 
of the soil belongs inalienably to the State and that no 
individual can ever acquire such dominion by a valid title, 
nor consequently ever have a just claim to the Economic 
Rent . 1 

Proofs of Man’s Right to Acquire Ownership of Capital 
even of Land. — We come now to the proofs of the Catholic 
doctrine. The classical treatment of this subject is to be 
found in the Encyclical of Leo XIII on tho Condition of 
tho Working Class . 2 Leo XIII establishes man’s right to 
acquire ownership of productive property by proofs drawn 
(a) from man’s individual nature, ( b ) from the family, and 
(c) from consideration of the public good. We summarise 
each in turn : 

(a) Proof from Men’s Nature. — Suppose that a man fences 
in and tills a piece of land (which up to that time was wild 
and was neither claimed or owned by anybody), and thus 
brings it from its prairie wildness to a state of productivity 
(as Robinson Crusoe is related to have done when marooned 
on a lonely island). In such a case, reason and common 
sense proclaim that the cultivator by thus imprinting his 
personality upon the thing hitherto unowned has made it 
his own. This is all the clearer since the improvements 
which his labour has imparted to the land and which un- 
doubtedly belong to the labourer, are inseparable and in 
great measure indistinguishable from the land itself . 3 

1 For a critique of George’s theory, cf. Garriguet, loc. cit., chap, ii ; 
Ryan — Distributive Justice, chaps, iii and iv ; also Cath. Encyclop., art. 
“ Agrarianism.” For a good summary of the several systems of land 
tenure (six in number) known in historical times, cf. Garriguet, loc. cit., 
chap, i, pp. 68-71. 

2 Rerum Novarum, pp. 135—139- 

3 This argument is given by Leo XIII probably as a reply to the 
assertion of H. George that first occupancy can never be the foundation 
of a valid title to ownership. 


Again, suppose a worker lives sparingly, saves money 
from liis wages, and for greater security invests his savings 
in land or capital of any other kind. In such case the 
capital is only his wages under another form ; and con- 
sequently should be as completely at his disposal as the 
wages themselves. 

Thirdly, as we have already seen, it is by labour that 
man has to provide for his needs and secure liis self- 
preservation and self-development. Now a man cannot 
work without material goods to exercise his activity upon ; 
nor can he produce wealth without the use of productive 
property as land, tools, and such like. It is only the Creator 
w ho can work upon nothing. Hence, the moment a man 
is precluded from the control of productive property, that 
moment he loses his personal independence. His own life, 
his future well-being, the interests of those that are dear 
to him, depend on the fiat of a buroaucracy. 

This becomes clearer if we consider the nature and extent 
of man’s needs. Unlike the lower animals, man has a 
rational nature, which enables him to look forward to the 
future. His wants are not merely those of the day. He 
cannot help being solicitous for the morrow ; and ho feels 
impelled by a law of his nature to seek provision even for 
the distant future. This he can effectually do only through 
the medium of productive property. 

“ Men’s needs,” writes Leo XIII, " do not die out but for 
ever recur. Although satisfied to-day, they demand fresh 
supplies to-morrow. Nature accordingly must have given to 
man a source that is stable, and remaining always with him, 
from which he might look to draw continual supplies. And this 
stable condition of things he finds in the earth and its fruits .” 1 

In other words, it is in accordance with man’s nature and 
its essential needs that he should be able to become the 
owner of permanent productive property and especially 
of land. 

(b) From the Family. — A man has a right to marry, if 
he so wishes, and become the father of a family ; in such 
case reason and instinct teach him that he is personally 
responsible — and the responsibility is inalienable — for the 

1 Berum Novarum, p. 136. 


the well-being of his helpless children. How can he secure 
a home, a competence and a secure future for those whose 
interests are as dear to him as his own ? These can be 
secured only on condition of his owning productive property. 
On this point again we quote the words of Leo XIII : 

“ For it is a most sacred law of nature that a father should 
provide food and all the necessaries for those whom he has 
begotten, and similarly it is natural that he should wish that 
his children, who, so to speak, carry on and continue his person- 
ality, should be by him provided with all that is needed to 
enable them to keep themselves decently from want and misery 
amid the uncertainties of this mortal life. Now in no way can a 
father effect this except by the ownership of productive pro- 
perty, which he can transmit to his children by inheritance.” 1 

The truth of this reasoning we see exemplified in the Soviet 
State of Russia, in which the prohibition of the private 
ownership of capital has carried with it the break up of the 
natural family organisation and the sundering of the family 
ties. The children in Soviet Russia are by law no longer 
dependents of the father but of the State. The deplorable 
results of this unnatural system we have already seen. 

(c) From Consideration of the Public Good . 2 — The absorp- 
tion by the State of the ownership of all productive 
property would dry up the sources of wealth by removing 
the most powerful incentives to effort and labour. For in 
such a system men would have little or no interest in exer- 
cising their talents or energy. Besides, it would throw open 
the door to envy and endless discord, and introduce con- 
fusion and disorder into the Commonwealth. 

Reply to Opponents. — Henry George’s main argument 
against the validity of private ownership of land, viz., that 
God gave the earth for the use and enjoyment of all, is 
easily answered. Every one, indeed, has an inborn right 
to a fair opportunity of getting a decent livelihood from 
the earth. The question is how can that right be best 
secured to each. Is it through private ownership or by 

1 Rerum Novarum, p. 139. 

a This argument, which has already been given in treating ol the 
mediaeval Economic doctrines (chap, vi, article 1) proves a social right 
rather than a personal right. 




some species of communal ownership, or by a due inter- 
mingling of both according to the Catholic tradition ? We 
have already shown that God’s decree, by which all have 
the right of living from the earth’s bounty, is best secured 
by the system of private ownership, limited as to use by 
obligations of Social Justice and Charity, and supplemented 
by a subsidiary system of communal organisation and 
communal reservation. 

Art. 3 — Christian Concept of Property Rights 

“ There are some,” writes Pius XI, “ who falsely and unjustly 
accuse the Supreme Pontiff and the Church as upholding . . . 
the wealthier classes against the proletariat . . . and launch 
against the Church the odious calumny that she has allowed a 
pagan concept of ownership to creep into the teachings of her 
theologians, and that another concept must be substituted which 
in their astounding ignorance they call Christian.” 1 

How false and ill-informed are the assertions and accusa- 
tions, to which the Supreme Pontiff here alludes, is clear 
from a study of the activities and traditional attitude of 
the Church in favour of the poor and oppressed, which have 
been outlined in the First Part of this work. The calumny 
is founded upon a one-sided and inadequate presentation 
of the Church’s teaching. 

Two-fold Aspect of Ownership.*— The Catholic teaching 
on the rights of ownership does not imply that one has a 
natural right to acquire property to an unlimited extent, 
or that one has unlimited rights as to use over the property 
one owns. A man has, indeed, a natural right to what he 
may lawfully acquire by his personal labour. 2 Furthermore, 
no authority may prevent him from obtaining by just means 
what is required for his present and future needs, including 
the needs of a family. But beyond these limits the rights 
he may claim rest upon social laws, whether natural or 
positive, which themselves are founded on consideration of 
the public good. 

1 Quadragesimo Anno, pp. 20, 21. 

2 If a man works as his own master on material of which he is himself 
the owner, he manifestly has a right to whatever new form or value is 
thereby produced ; if he works as the employee of another and on material 
which another owns he has a right to a just wage for his toil. See infra, 
chair, xxi, art. 3. 


There are, besides, certain limitations to the lawful use 
of property rights, acknowledged by all recognised Catholic 
authorities, and implied in the principles already laid down. 
These limitations (which we have already touched on in 
dealing with mediaeval economic teaching), 1 rest upon the 
rights of all to acquire property for their necessary use, and 
on the general decree of Providence assigning the goods of 
nature for all men’s needs. In other words, ownership in 
the Christian conception has a twofold aspect, namely, the 
individual aspect which refers to the rights of the individual 
owner, and the social aspect, which concerns the common 

“ The right to acquire property,” writes Pius XI, “ has been 
given to man by nature, or rather by the Creator Himself, not 
only to enable individuals to provide for their own needs and 
those of their families, but also in order to secure by that means 
that the goods which the Creator has destined for the human 
race may truly serve this purpose. There is therefore a double 
danger to be avoided ... if the social and public aspect of 
ownership be denied or minimised the logical consequence is 
individualism : on the other hand, the rejection or diminution 
of its private and individual character necessarily leads to some 
form of collectivism [viz.. Socialism].” 2 

We have already discussed the error of Collectivism or 
Socialism, which comes from disregarding the private and 
individual aspect of the natural right of ownership. It 
remains now to treat briefly of the other and opposite error 
which is rooted in the denial or practical disregard of the 
social and public aspect w r hich is equally essential to the 
true and Christian concept of property rights. 

Contrasted with Pagan and Liberal View. — In the First 
Part of the present work 3 we have dealt briefly with the 
contrast between the old pagan view of property rights and 
the conception of ownership first introduced into Roman 
society under the influence of Christian teaching : and more 
fully developed later on in the Christian states of mediaeval 
Europe. Ownership under the old Roman law implied 
absolute and irresponsible control, which would include a 
right of abuse as well as of enjoyment and use. In the 

1 Chap, vi, art. x. * Quadragesimo Anno, pp. 20, 21. 

3 Cf. Supra, chaps, i and ii, and chap, v, art. 1. 



Christian law ownership is understood in a different way. 
The human owner is not the absolute master ; but is regarded 
as the administrator of a Supreme Owner ; and hence the 
powers of the human proprietor are essentially limited and 
hedged round by the eternal laws of God. These latter are 
usually summarised under the heading of Justice, Charity 
and Piety ; which we shall discuss more fully later on. 

Christian Feudal Law. — When the Roman Empire became 
Christian in the 4th and 5th centuries A.D., the old Roman 
law regarding property and civic rule, was considerably 
modified, especially in its administration and application 
owing to the influence of the Church ; but in many par- 
ticulars the old ivritten code remained unchanged, still 
retaining a large measure of its pagan character. 

The new states of Europe which came into being after 
the break up of the Western Empire in the 5th and 6th 
centuries had developed each its own legal system which, 
however, remained for many centuries in a rather crude 
state. These systems were founded partly on the Roman 
law, partly on the old Teutonic customs of each nation, and 
to a very considerable extent on the feudal customs and 
law which grew up in Europe after the 7th century. But 
the whole system or systems of European law of this period 
were profoundly influenced in all details by Christian prin- 
ciples. For it was under the guidance of the Catholic 
Church that these nations were being gradually civilised. 
Hence, Christianity may be said to be the soul of the 
mediaeval law of feudal Europe. 1 

Supplanted by Roman Law.— From the beginning of the 
14th century, however, a strong movement began (owing 
largely to the influence of the French legists or jurists) to 
unify the European laws ; to abolish the feudal customs ; 
and to make the Roman law the prevailing type. Among 
the manifestations of this tendency are the increasing des- 
potism of the rulers and the growing absolutism in the ideas 
of ownership. 2 This movement was powerfully strengthened 
by the pagan tendencies associated w ith the Renaissance ; 

1 Cf. Meyer et Ardant — La Question Agraire (Paris, 1887), vol. ii. 

2 Cf. Mourret, op. cit., vol. v., chap. ii. 


and it reached its acme after the Protestant revolt, which 
sowed the seeds of modern Liberalism and Capitalism. 
Hence it is that many principles and ideas which are current 
in modern European states regarding property rights are 
fundamentally opposed to the teaching and principles of 

Thus, of the several systems of land tenure known in 
different parts of Europe in historical times, the modern 
individualistic system, which exempts ownership of land 
from all responsibility to the community, is the only one 
recognised by the modern Liberal economists. In the 
individualistic system the proprietor is regarded as the 
complete and irresponsible master of the estate, no matter 
how extensive it may be. He can hand it over to the 
control of a foreign syndicate if he so wills ; can work it 
or allow it to lie untilled or altogether idle according to 
his good pleasure. Such a concept of the ownership of the 
landed property of the country was quite foreign to the 
economic principles of mediaeval times. It is unchristian 
and unnatural. It has never been admitted by the Church ; 
and, although nominally upheld in some instances by civil 
law, has never been consistently followed out in practice . 1 

Limitations and Duties Attaching to Property Rights. 2 — 

The limitations and responsibilities which attach to property 
rights, and especially to the ownership of land, are rooted 
in the prerogatives of human personality, in man’s sub- 
ordination to the Divine Law, and in the natural institution 
and purposes of civil society already summarised . 3 As 

1 Cf. Garriguet, loc. cit., pp. 197-203. 

* The doctrine stated here on the nature of private ownership, which is 
that of Leo XIII, Pius XI, St. Thomas, and of all “ those theologians 
who have taught under the guidance and direction of the Catholic Church " 
(Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno, p. 20), must be carefully distinguished from 
the theory put forward by the School of Saint Simon, Comte and others, 
who have apparently been followed in this matter by Gide and a few 
other Catholic authors. According to this latter theory the individual’s 
right or claim rests solely upon the needs and interest of the community 
or State, which is the real owner, and which commits to individuals the 
role of exploiting and administering a certain portion of the goods of the 
earth, as the most effective means of utilising them for the needs of all. 
Cf. Gide — Political Economy, bookiii, chap, i, sec. iii, pp. 46T, 462. The 
theory is vague and dangerous and is opposed to the doctrine already 
proved of an inborn natural right to acquire property. Cf, Garriguet, 
loc. cit., chap. viii. 

3 Chap, vi, art. X . 



these will be dealt with again more fully under the heading 
of Justice and Charity, we here touch only on a few points 
of special relevancy to our present purpose. 

Rights of ownership cease or are over-ridden in face of 
the superior right of another to preserve his life or safeguard 
interests which are regarded as belonging to the same 
category as life. Again, the principle that “ one may do 
as he likes with his own,” understood as including the right 
to use one’s property for other than reasonable needs, is 
contrary to Christian teaching . 1 

The prerogatives of ownership are also limited or set off 
at least in regard to what is known as superfluous goods by 
the duties of Charity and Piety. Finally, rights of owner- 
ship (in regard again to superfluous goods) are subject to 
obligations of Legal Justice. Hence, should the public 
good require it, the State has the power and sometimes a 
duty to over-ride vested rights in regard to superfluous 
goods, and especially to prevent the natural resources of 
the country being withheld from the people by owners who 
are unwilling to develop them . 2 

Another Aspect of Man’s Natural Right to Acquire 
Property. — From the right which men have from nature 
(and which human law cannot justly or validly take away) 
to acquire private property, a further inference of far- 
reaching importance must be drawn. It is not alone under 
a socialist or communist regime that men’s natural right 
to acquire ownership may be violated. This is done no 
less effectually in a social system in which immense multi- 
tudes, while nominally and legally free to become owners, 
are in practice excluded from the moral possibility of doing 
so. Thus, if the bulk of the productive property of a 
country (land, mines, fisheries, waterways, wharves, etc.) 
is under the control of a comparatively small section, who 
do not or cannot exploit it, or worse still, is controlled by 
persons or syndicates belonging to another country, the 
result often is that the bulk of the people, or a large section 

1 Garriguet, loc. cit ., pp. 192, 193. 

2 Cf. Garriguet, op. cit., chaps, viii and ix, especially pp. 199—203 \ 
see also infra, chap, xxv, art. 3, for an account of the drastic action of the 
Popes in dealing with the uncultivated ranches of the great landowners 
in the Papal States. Cf. also Meyer — Institutions Juris Naturalis, 
pars, ii, nn. 220-224. 


of them, are practically excluded from the possibility of 
becoming independent owners. Such an economic system 
is out of harmony with Christian principles. 

Hence, the right which every individual has to a fair 
chance of acquiring property by his honest labour, and of 
thus realising an independence becoming his human dignity 
must not alone be recognised in law as against the Socialists’ 
theories, but should be made secure in fact against the 
monopolies of the overgrown capitalist, the rancher, or 
the financial magnate. Consequently, Catholic teaching, 
which has always upheld the right of private ownership, 
also insists on the poor man’s claim to a fair opportunity of 
actuating that right. Thus Leo XIII, after proving man’s 
right to private ownership, goes on to say : 

'* The law therefore should favour ownership, and its policy 
should be to induce as many as possible of the people to become 
owners. Many excellent results will follow from this ; and first 
of all property will certainly become more equitably distri- 
buted. . . . 

" If the working people can be encouraged to look forward to 
obtaining a share in the land, the consequence will be that the 
gulf between vast wealth and sheer poverty will be bridged over 
and the respective classes brought nearer to each other. 

“ A further advantage will be a greater abundance of the 
earth’s fruits. . . . And a third advantage would spring from 
this ; men would cling to the country in which they were born : 
for no one would exchange his country for a foreign land if his 
own afforded him the means of decent living and a happy home.” 1 

The social anomalies and injustice which the capitalist 
regime in its present form involves are not only oppressive 
but are now recognised as the main element of the danger 
which at present threatens the stability of social order. It 
is only by removing the injustice through a wide distribution 
of the land and other natural sources of wealth and by the 
fostering of religious influence that the danger can be 

Art. 4 — Right to Personal Freedom 2 

Its Nature and Limitations. — Seeing that man’s end and 
purpose in life concern only himself and his Creator, and 

1 Rerum Novarum, p. 159. 

2 Castelein, op. cit., Thesis 5; Meyer, op. cit., pars, ii, nn. 85-S7 ; 
Cuthbert, op. cit., pp. 1-21. 


that in personal dignity all men are equal, there is no reason 
in the nature of things why one man should have a right 
to interfere with another’s freedom of action. Hence, 
everyone has a natural right to order his life in his own 
way, as long as he observes God’s law and does not violate 
the rights of others. In some cases, however, as already 
pointed out, the exercise of this freedom may be limited, 
when the public good requires ; although such limitations 
cannot apply to the exercise of such rights as are perfect 
or inalienable. 

The reason why, in some cases, the public need may over- 
ride natural rights is not far to seek. The rights or needs 
of society are founded on the rights of the individuals that 
compose it ; and when one man’s right of freedom clashes 
with the collective rights of other members of the com- 
munity, it is reasonable that the stronger and more urgent 
claim should prevail. Hence, although no social needs can 
be strong enough to rob the individual of such rights as his 
right to his own life (which is indefeasible as long as he is 
innocent of crime), or his right to liberty of conscience , 1 
or, at least in normal circumstances, his right to acquire 
property, there are some other natural rights to which 
limitations may legitimately be set. As the right of freedom 
in choosing one’s work and one’s state of life is especially 
important in this connection, we will treat briefly of a few 
matters relating to these points. 

Liberty in the Choice of a State of Life. — The question as 
to whether one is to marry or not ; whether one is to serve 
God and seek one’s happiness and perfection amid ordinary 
secular pursuits, or by following the evangelical counsels in 
the priesthood or the religious life, is a question whose 
decision dominates almost every activity of one’s whole 
life ; and is closely bound up with one’s most intimate 
personal interests. Hence, freedom of choice in such matters 
is the individual’s inalienable right. 

1 As the conscience of each one is his natural guide, no one may be 
forced to act against it. Tf, however, an external act or omission, which 
is dictated by a false conscience, violates the rights of others, it may be 
prevented, or even punished, by public authority, even though the person 
misled by the false conscience be quite honest and sincere in his con- 
victions. Cf. Meyer, ib., nn. 88—90 ; also Pevas — Key to the World’ * 
Progress, chap, vii, 


“ In choosing a state of life,” writes Leo XIII , 1 “ it is in- 
disputable that all are at liberty to follow the counsel of Jesus 
Christ as to observing virginity, or to bind themselves by the 
marriage tie. No human law can abolish the natural arid original 
right of marriage, nor in any way limit the chief and principal 
purpose of marriage ordained by God’s authority from the 
beginning. Increase and multiply.” 2 

For the legitimate exercise of the right, the person must 
of course have reached an age when he or she is capable of 
making a prudent choice. One is bound also to give due 
consideration to the counsels of those who are one’s natural 
advisers and guardians, and to any claims of justice or 
piety that should influence one’s choice. But when the 
young man or woman has reached the proper age, any undue 
interference from outside with his or her freedom of choice 
in the matter of marriage or of selecting a state of life, is 
a violation of personal rights. 

It is not, indeed, beyond the competence of the civil 
authority, should the public interest make it advisable, 
to accord special privileges to married people, such as special 
facilities to acquire land, exemption from certain taxes, etc., 
and, on the other hand, to subject bachelors to certain legal 
disabilities or to a larger share of the public burdens such 
as taxes or military service. Such measures may be quite 
equitable, and even desirable, in view of the fact that those 
who bring up children to be future citizens are fulfilling a 
most useful and necessary public function, which the others 
are not doing. For similar reasons and with a view to check 
selfishness and extravagance and to foster the domestic 
virtues, it may be desirable to graduate the salaries paid 
to public functionaries in accordance with their domestic 
responsibilities. But, for the State to attempt to enforce 
or prevent marriage in normal circumstances would be an 
unwarranted interference with personal freedom and a 
violation of inalienable personal rights. 

Eugenics . 3 — The so-called science or theories of “Eugenics” 
must be touched on in this connection. Eugenics may be 

1 Rerum Novarum (1891), p. 138. * Gen. i. 28. 

3 On the whole subject of Eugenics, cf. Calh. Encyclop. (Index vol.) ; 
also Davis, S.J. — Eugenics (Burns & Oates, London, 1930) ; Gerrard — 
The Church and Eugenics (C. S. G., 1921) ; Bruehl — Birth Control and 
Eugenics fWagner, New York, 1928) — an excellent and comprehensive 
treatment of the subject, 


defined as “ the study of agencies under social control that 
may improve or injure the racial qualities of future genera- 
tions either physically or mentally.” The Eugenic move- 
ment took its rise in England in the last quarter of the 19th 
century, being mainly promoted by the writings and efforts 
of Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911), a friend and relative of 
Charles Darwin (1802-1882), author of the Origin of Species 
(1860). The methods of the Eugenists are scientific re- 
search, propaganda and legislation. As a result of the 
movement in U.S.A., laws have been passed in very many 
of the States enforcing, for various classes of defectives, 
artificial sterilisation, segregation, or prohibition of marriage. 
These laws, however, have usually been left a dead letter, 
or soon fallen into desuetude. 

Church’s Attitude towards Eugenics. — The science of 
Eugenics in itself and in so far as it is a true science, is 
quite in accord with Catholic principles. “ The Catholic 
Church,” says a contemporary writer on this subject, “ is 
in favour of a healthy life, healthy offspring, clean living, 
temperate habits, continence before marriage, temperance 
in marital relations, care of the pregnant mother, elimination 
of venereal diseases and of alcoholism, improvement of the 
slums, avoidance of over-crowding and of the scandalous 
herding together of growing children, suitable conditions of 
labour, appropriate work for women and children, who 
have to work, and, in fact, of everything else not contrary 
to moral principles, which an enlightened people through 
its government or municipal councils aims at securing for 
the community. All this is eugenical in the best sense, 
and in its highest degree.” 1 

If the Church’s laws (which are in the main only a re- 
assertion or application of the natural law) were generally 
observed, as they would be in a really Christian society, 
the problems with which the modern Eugenist strives to 
deal would be already practically solved, or would not arise 
to any great extent. The Church’s methods, however, 
demand a measure of self-restraint which the spirit of an 
unchristian public opinion is opposed to or despairs of 

1 Davis, S.J., op. cit., p. 59. 


Another source of the disagreement between the Church 
and the non-Christian Eugenist is rooted in the fact that 
the Church makes bodily health and mental culture sub- 
servient to the moral law and to man’s spiritual interests. 
Hence, she will not even for an assured, and much less for a 
problematic, social or temporal advantage approve of any 
measure that may be harmful to one’s eternal or spiritual 

And Towards the Special Methods Proposed. — Regarding 
some of the methods advocated by modern eugenists the 
following may be said : 

I. It has always been the common teaching of Catholic 
theologians that it would be a violation of inalienable 
personal rights, and, therefore, immoral and unjust to enforce 
for the good or convenience of others mutilation or steriliza- 
tion on one who though mentally or physically defective is 
guilty of no crime. Besides, seeing that only a small fraction 
of the defective are born of defective parents, sterilization 
would do little to check the increase of the defective. This 
teaching has been authoritatively confirmed by Pius XI 
in his recent Encyclical on Christian Marriage : 

“ Public magistrates have no direct power over the bodies of 
their subjects. Therefore, when no crime has taken place and 
there is present no cause for grave punishment, they can never 
directly harm or tamper with the integrity of the body either 
for the reason of Eugenics or for any other cause. . . . Further- 
more, Christian doctrine establishes, and the light of reason 
makes it most clear, that private individuals have no other 
power over the members of their own bodies than that which 
pertains to their natural ends ; and they are not free to destroy 
or mutilate their members, or in any other way render them 
unfit for their natural functions except when no other provision 
can be made for the good of the whole body.” 1 

II. Some Catholic authors were of opinion that segregation 
of the unfit and defective in suitable homes would be per- 
missible, on the ground that one’s personal freedom may 
be limited when the public good requires it, and that such 
persons being quite unfit to fulfil the duties of pa ts could 

1 Casti Connubii (1930I, p. 33 (London, C. T. S. booklet, entitled Christian 



not lawfully marry. This doctrine, however, has been 
authoritatively rejected by Pius XI, who writes : 

“ The family is more sacred than the State, and men are 
begotten not for the earth or for time, but for heaven and 
eternity. Although often these individuals are to be dissuaded 
from entering into matrimony, certainly it is wrong to brand 
men with the stigma of crime because they contract marriage 
on the ground that despite the fact that they are in every way 
capable of matrimony, they will give birth only to defective 
children even though they use all care and diligence.” 1 

III. The method of dealing with the defective which the 
Church most strongly favours is what may be described 
as “ Socialisation.” It refers only to cases in which the 
defectives are capable of being trained so as to become self- 
supporting. Suitable homes are provided in which they 
are educated under religious influences, and in accordance 
with the ideals of family life. They are allowed to return 
to the ordinary life of the community, when they can live 
and earn their livelihood with their own people. 

Freedom in Choice of Work. — Freedom in the choice of 
one’s work is also closely connected with one’s temporal 
and spiritual interests. Hence, as the individual alone is 
responsible for these interests, he has the natural right to 
choose the type of work to which he will devote himself. 
As this matter, however, does not affect one’s life so deeply 
as the preceding, the individual’s right to complete freedom 
of choice is not ordinarily considered perfect or absolutely 
inalienable. But to what extent public authority may 
justly override the natural right is often difficult to decide 
in concrete cases. 

That the State could as an ordinary policy arrange the 
profession and work of its members, as one school of Socialists 
propose, would certainly be an unwarranted violation of 
individual rights. That the State could do so, temporarily 
on occasion of severe public stress, as in time of a defensive 
war or a plague, few would deny. That certain sections of 
the community, such as the slaves in the early Christian 
states or the serfs in mediaeval Europe, who were bound 
to the soil ( adscripti glebes) should be compelled, as they 

i-Casti Connubii (1930), p. 33 (London, C.T.S. booklet, entitled Christian 


were by the fact of their slavery or serfdom, to follow pro- 
fessions not of their own choosing, is not in accordance with 
Christian ideals. 

Slavery and Serfdom. — Nevertheless, owing to the peculiar 
social needs in the early Christian times, and afterwards in 
mediasval Europe (needs which were a heritage from the 
previous non-Christian social system), a mitigated slavery 
and serfdom had to be tolerated for the time being ; and 
the individual’s natural claim to freedom of choice in work 
had to yield to the exigencies of the public good. 

Attitude of the Church. — The Church, while exhorting the 
slaves and serfs to obey existing laws, always insisted that 
their inalienable rights be safeguarded, and that they be 
not subjected to any inhuman or over-oppressive conditions. 
Hence, she never approved, nor even tolerated, absolute 
slavery of the type that prevailed in Europe in pre-Christian 
times. Such slavery implies disregard of men’s inalienable 
rights, and is essentially unjust and immoral . 1 In mediaeval 
slavery, on the other hand, at least in the circumstances in 
which it was tolerated by the Church, the essential personal 
rights of the slave population were safeguarded , 2 and in 

1 Cf. Supra, chaps, i and ii. 

2 The attitude of some of the great mediaeval theologians such as St. 
Thomas, Scotus, Albertus Magnus and others, towards slavery has given 
rise to discussion and some misunderstanding. On this matter the follow- 
ing may be said with certainty : 

(a) The slavery (servitus) of which these authors treat is not slavery in 
the modem and usual sense, but mediaeval serfdom in which the serf 
(servus) enjoys all his essential personal rights. 

(b) They definitely reject the doctrine of Aristotle (revived by some 
modern philosophers) that men differ in essential dignity of nature and that 
some are born to be the slaves of others. For, as St. Thomas says : " One 
man is not intended by nature for the good of another as the end and 
purpose of his existence " (“ Unus homo natura sua non ordinatur ad alter- 
num sicut ad finem " in IV Sent., dist. 44, Q. 1, a. 33 c). 

(c) They do assert, however, that it is in accordance with the natural 
order and with men’s different characters and abilities that some command 
and others obey, that some rule and others serve ; but they imply that 
the rights of ruling and commanding must be exercised for the good of 
the subject and not of the master. 

(d) They definitely allow serfdom (servitus) in certain cases, viz., if the 
servus freely consents, or if the state of servitus is imposed in punishment 
of crime. They hesitate and are not in agreement as to whether a victor 
in a just war can justly reduce captive enemies to this state. (Cf. Diet. 
Apolog. de la Foi Catholique, art. " Esclavage," cols. 1495-1496 ; also 
Studies, vol. 9 (1920), pp. 15 ff, in an article by Professor A. O’Rahilly, 
entitled " Democracy of St. Thomas "). 



proportion as the nations came more fully under the influence 
of Christian principles the lot of the slaves improved ; so 
much so that when they reached the stage of serfdom their 
condition was very much better than the conditions of large 
sections of the poorer classes in present-day Europe and 
America. Meanwhile, however, the Church worked un- 
ceasingly for their complete emancipation. 

Results of Her Influence. — The disappearance of serfdom 
from Europe was due almost entirely, as we have already 
seen, to the influence of the Catholic Church. On the other 
hand, serfdom reappeared during the 16th century in 
Germany, Sweden and Denmark, as a result of the Protestant 

After the discovery of the New World, slavery was 
partially revived. Large numbers of the native Indian 
population were reduced to slavery ; and an inhuman traffic 
in African Negro slaves was carried on, in which England, 
Spain, France and Portugal participated. The Catholic 
Church never ceased to protest against the immoral practice, 
and, wherever her influence prevailed, slavery gradually 
disappeared. 1 

Conscription Laws. — As to whether the conscription laws 
of modern European states can be reconciled with men’s 
inalienable rights the following may be said : These laws, 
in as far as they impose compulsory military service upon 
the men of the State, are founded upon pagan precedent, 
and are abhorrent to the spirit of Christianity. The modem 
conscription laws (which date from the period of the French 
Revolution) and the political ideals that have given rise 
to them, are an outcome of the revolt against the Church 
in the 16th century and the subsequent spread of non- 
Christian philosophy in Europe. It is clear that these laws 
tend to override men’s personal rights in matters of the 
highest importance. Man’s natural right to free choice of 
work and to personal liberty of action is suspended, and 
other rights still more sacred are violated or endangered. 
Besides, owing to the immense power which the conscription 
laws put into the hands of a bureaucracy, one can easily 

1 Cf. supra, chap, vii, art. 2, lor references and fuller details. 


understand how almost overy human right of the individual 
citizen is imperilled. 

Hence it seems certain, from the principles already laid 
down, that compulsory military service could be justified 
only in circumstances which would make compulsion 
absolutely essential for the safety of the State. Such cir- 
cumstances may arise in a country on occasion of a necessary 
war of defence, or the certain danger of such a war. Given 
such circumstances, it is not clear, notwithstanding the 
extreme nature of the measure, that compulsory military 
service for defence of one’s own country is unlawful or unjust, 
when all other means have failed. 

The reason is that the destruction of the liberty or in- 
dependence of a nation by a foreign power is a calamity of 
such colossal magnitude, bringing invariably in its wake a 
whole train of degrading evils, that the nation’s right to 
freedom from foreign aggression is strong enough to out- 
weigh any individual rights that are not clearly inalienable . 1 

1 Cf. Meyer, op. cit., nn. 617-620 ; Donat, op. cit., sect.iii, cap. v, art. 7 ; 
Costa-Rosetti, op. cit., Thesis 165, pp. 680 ff. 



The family in its wider signification means an assemblage 
of individuals, dwelling in the same house under a common 
superior or head, and united by ties founded on the natural 
law. In this sense, the family is a composite society, which 
may be composed, at least potentially, in all or any of three 
ways — the union, namely, of husband and wife, of parents 
and children, and of master and servants. 

The foundation of the family is the union of husband and 
wife, and, as a consequence of this union, the duties and 
rights of parents and children. The relations of the head of 
the family with others who may form a portion of the 
household, such as servants, are on a different plane, and 
have not the same intimate connection with the fundamental 
needs of man. Hence, we shall first of all discuss the 
essential elements of family life, namely, husband, wife, 
and children. But as the relations between masters and 
servants are also founded upon the natural law, and usually 
constitute an important factor in the social organism, we 
shall treat of these in a separate chapter. 

Art. 1 — General Principles 1 

The State a Union of Families. — Although the individual is 
the fundamental unit in the State, as in all human associa- 
tions, it is not of individuals as such that the State is 
immediately composed. Between the individual and the 
State the family comes in as an intermediary unit. The 
State is essentially a union of families, for being a permanent 
organisation it must, in its essential constitution, provide 
for its own continuance, which, according to the natural 
law, can be realised only through the medium of the family. 
If individual persons sometimes form direct units in the 

1 Cf . Cath. Encyclop., art. “ Family ** ; Did. Apologetique de la Foi 
Catholique, art. “ Famille " ; Devas — Political Economy, bk. i, chap, viii ; 
and Studies of Family Life, part ii. 




social organism, as occurs in the case of men and women 
who do not happen to be members of a family, this is an 
accidental circumstance, and such cases are comparatively 

In a properly organised State there will, it is true, exist 
other intermediary combinations, such as the parish, the 
municipality or the province, but these latter are not 
absolutely essential like the family unit, without which the 
continuance or, indeed, the existence of the State is 

Family Prior to State. — The family, like the individual, is 
prior to the State. It comes into being in response to 
human needs and tendencies that are more urgent and more 
deeply rooted in human nature, and more necessary to all 
the best interests of the individual and the race than the 
needs for which the State has immediately to provide. 

" The family,” writes Leo XIII, “ is a society limited, indeed, 
in numbers, but no less a true society, anterior to every kind 
of State or nation, invested with rights and duties of its own, 
totally independent of the civil community . . . governed by 
a power within its limits, that is, the father .” 1 

Functions of the State in Its Regard. — Hence, generally 
speaking, the functions of the civil power are concerned 
directly and immediately with the family, and not with 
individuals as such. The State cannot interfere in any way 
with the unity and integrity of the family, nor override any 
of the essential obligations of domestic life, nor usurp the 
functions which the natural law has assigned to the parents. 
Any action of the governing power in violation of these 
principles would be tyrannical and invalid ; and laws tend- 
ing, even directly or remotely, to the prejudice of domestic 
interests are opposed to the primary duty of the civil power. 

On this subject Leo XIII writes : 

“ The contention that the civil government should, at its 
option, intrude into and exercise intimate control over the family 
is a great and pernicious error. True, if the family finds itself 
in exceeding distress ... it is right that extreme necessity be 
met by public aid, since each family is a part of the common- 

1 Rerum Novarum, pp. 139-140. 




wealth. In like manner, if, within the precincts of the house- 
hold, there should occur grave disturbance of mutual rights, 
public authority should intervene to force each party to yield 
to the other its proper due ; for this is not to deprive citizens 
of their rights, but to safeguard and strengthen them. But the 
rulers of the State must go no further : here nature bids them 
stop.” 1 

When the governing power of the State keeps in view 
only individual interests, ignoring those of the family, the 
invariable result is a tendency, more or less strong, towards 
the weakening of the family and the disintegration of family 
life. This is one of the worst dangers now threatening 
European civilisation. The purpose of the civil law must 
be to secure as far as possible that family ties are kept 
strong and vigorous ; that the laws ordained by the Author 
of nature be allowed to function with efficiency and ease ; 
and that all avoidable temptation to the violation of them 
he removed. 

Healthy Family Life Essential to the State. — Although the 
family is not meant primarily for the good of the State, 
nor can its essential interests he made subservient to any 
supposed public good, it is true, nevertheless, that the 
public good is best promoted by securing and safeguarding 
domestic life. For the family is to society what the heart 
and lungs and digestive organs, are to the living body. 
Where family life is pure and domestic ties strong, the 
condition of the body politic is fundamentally sound, and 
such weaknesses and irregularities as may creep in can be 
remedied with comparative ease. But if family life be 
once undermined, everything in the social organism goes 
wrong, and the nation is on the road to decay. 

(a) For the Family is the Nursing Ground of the Citizens. — 

The family is, in fact, the source from which come all the 
elements that go to form the State, and ensure its strength 
and stability. A citizen — man or woman — is not, like the 
lower animals, equipped for life as the result merely of 
generation and birth. One cannot become an active 
member of society till many years after being bom. Years 
of patient nursing and training and the exercise of ceaseless 

1 Rerum Novarutn, p. 139. 



care and endless love and sympathy are required to bring 
out the latent possibilities of the human faculties and fit the 
person for the duties of citizenship. These needs can be 
met only in the home, and in the bosom of the human 
family. Hence Leo XIII writes : 

“ Each Christian family presents a likeness of the heavenly 
home ; and the wondrous benefits thence resulting are not 
limited simply to the family circle, but spread abroad abundantly 
over the State at large.” 1 

And in another place the same Pontiff writes : 

“ When domestic society is fashioned in the mould of Christian 
life, each member will gradually grow accustomed to the love 
of religion and piety, to the abhorrence of false and harmful 
teaching, to the pursuit of virtue, to obedience to elders, and 
to the restraint of that insatiable seeking after self-interest alone, 
which so spoils and weakens the character of man.” 2 

(6) And the School of the Civic Virtues. — Again, the family 
is the training-ground of all the social and moral virtues. 
“ It is,” as the Protestant writer, Lessing, has expressed it, 
“ the school founded by God Himself for the education of 
the human race.” Justice, charity, patriotism, which are 
the bonds of social life, depend for their vigour, and almost 
for their existence, upon the teaching of the home, and upon 
fidelity to domestic duties. The example given within the 
family circle of domestic affection and solicitude for the 
rights and interests of others will bear its natural fruit in 
the broader sphere of social relations ; while the qualities of 
obedience, self-restraint, generosity, courage, discipline, 
fidelity to duty, gentleness of manners, all of which go to 
make up the character of the worthy citizen, are best 
acquired in the home, and can scarcely be otherwise 

Again, the family is the depository of the local and national 
traditions of the people, and the ordinary channel through 
which these are passed on from generation to generation. 
Love of country is thus the natural development of love 
of home. 3 

1 Apostolici Muneris, 1878, p. ig. 2 Inscrutabili, p. 9. 

3 Diet. Apolog., loc. cit., cols. 1874, r S75. 



(c) And the Mainstay of a Sound Economic System. — 

Finally, even from the economic standpoint the help of the 
family organism is practically indispensable for the pros- 
perity of the State. The average man will put forth his 
best endeavours in productive work only under the pressure 
of domestic responsibilities. Besides, everyone interested 
in economic matters is aware that the best and most efficient 
work is usually done through family co-operation; and, 
above all, by the multitude of small proprietors, where 
almost every member of the household, old and young, con- 
tributes his or her share to the promotion of the family 
business or profession. 

Hence, to bring about the final ruin of a State, it is not 
enough to overthrow a government, or to destroy the material 
goods of the people, or to bring the nation under a foreign 
yoke ; for governments return, and wealth can be again 
restored by labour, and even a foreign usurper may in time 
be driven out. But if family ties be once loosened, or the 
mass of the people forget their reverence for domestic 
obligations ; if homesteads are recklessly broken up, all 
the best interests of the State will suffer ; industry will flag ; 
the population will begin to fall off ; patriotism will languish ; 
the young, no longer fashioned in a pure home to the dis- 
cipline of justice, obedience and self-restraint will grow into 
a generation ready to break through all social obligations. 

Notable Examples of the Christian Family. — In Devas’s 
Studies of Family Life, published in 1886, may be read de- 
scriptions of domestic life, both Christian and non-Christian, 
as it was to be found in several countries of Europe and 
America in the second half of the 19th century. 1 The 
author gives pathetic and depressing accounts of family 
life as it existed at the time in places where religious faith 
and practice had ceased. The examples of the non- 
Christian family are taken from among the French peasantry, 
the English labouring class, and the Americans of the United 
States. 2 The types he describes are unfortunately much 
more widespread now than they were fifty years ago ; and 
the worst and most depressing features of his descriptions 

1 Devas’s sketches are founded mainly upon Le Play’s great work, 
Les Ouvriers Europeens, already referred to (chap, xv, art. 2). 

2 Op. cit., part ii. 



tlie degrading immorality, the absence of piety and affection, 
and the human misery — are more pronounced than when 
Devas wrote. Omitting these, however, we transcribe two 
extracts containing descriptions of family life as it appears 
under the guidance of strong religious influences : 

“ Who, for example, has not heard of Ireland, and how there 
a vast population, suffering the extremities of economic and 
political oppression . . . showed a shining example of Christian 
family life, sins of the flesh being scarcely known among them, 
the reverence for parents and dutiful care for their brethren 
being universal. Nor were these virtues the product of the 
race, or of the land, but of religion. . . . The same race when 
transplanted among the After-Christian 1 population of English 
and American cities, frequently lose in a single generation the 
characteristics of chastity and dutifulness. . . .” 

Another example of admirable family life is taken from 
Mexico (in 1870), which the author describes as a “land 
of mixed races and revolutions,” where “if family life is 
good the goodness can only be ascribed to religious influence.” 

“As a rule the control of parents over their children never 
fully ceases save with death, and after death their memory is 
cherished, it seems to me, with more fondness than elsewhere 
in the world. . . . The children in Mexico strike you with 
surprise and admiration. You see no idle, vicious, saucy boys 
running around on the streets, annoying decent people by their 
vile language and rude behaviour. ... I never saw a badly- 
behaved child in Mexico. In the family circle the people are 
models for the world. The young always treat the old with the 
deepest respect, and the affection displayed by parents for their 
children, and children for their parents, is most admirable. . . . 
The same causes have produced in many other lands and races 
the same effects. . . . Where the Christian religion is practised 
in its integrity, the reader will find the Christian family flourish- 
ing, as in Ireland and in Mexico, with its two great characteristics 
of chastity and dutifulness.” 2 

In another work, the same author gives several examples 
borrowed from Le Play’s monographs, of these typical 
Christian families, among the Catholic Hungarians, the 

1 The term “ After-Christian ” is used by Devas in reference to the 
nations that were once Catholic but have lost their faith. 

2 /6„ pp. 175-177- 



Rhinelanders, the Basques, the Tuscans, and the French. 
Of these latter he writes : 

“ Let France, conspicuous to-day as the sad parent of the 
After-Christians, give an example from her brighter past. . . . 
M. de Ribbe in his book on the families of France in the olden 
times . . . has found (from hitherto unpublished family records) 
in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries a deeply religious spirit 
among rich and poor, filial piety, parental devotion, reverence 
to the mother and the widowed mother, the traditions of 
the past handed down from one generation to another, a 
family house for poor as well as for rich (not a lodging or a 
tenement), cultivation of the intellect among women as well as 
men, charity to the poor, edifying deaths, pious legacies (notably 
there were foundations in almost every village to enable poor 
girls to marry), wills a source of union, not of disputes, peace 
among brethren ; in a word, the Christian family.” 1 

Duty of State to Protect and Assist the Family . 2 — From 
all that has been so far said it follows that a first duty of the 
State in providing for the common good is to protect and 
strengthen family life. 

“ Those who have the care of the State,” writes Pius XI, 
“ and of the common good cannot neglect the needs of married 
people without bringing great harm upon the State and upon 
the common welfare. ... Not only in those things which regard 
temporal goods is it the concern of public authority that proper 
provision be made for matrimony and the family, but also in 
matters pertaining to the good of souls : namely, just laws should 
he made for the protection of chastity, for reciprocal conjugal 
aid, and for similar purposes ; and these laws must be faithfully 
enforced ; for, as history testifies, the prosperity of the State and 
the temporal happiness of its citizens cannot remain safe and 
sound where the foundations upon which they are established, 
which is the moral order, is weakened, and where the very 
fountain-head from which the State draws its life, namely, 
wedlock and the family is obstructed by the vices of its citizens.” 3 

Ruinous Policy of Modern Governments. — Unfortunately 
the policy and tendencies of many modem governments 
are exactly the reverse of this ; and hence the perilous state 
of European society to-day. 

1 The Key of the World’s Progress , p. 50. 

2 Cf Devas — Pol. Economy (see Index, " Family"). 

3 Casti Connubii (Dec., 1930), pp. 62, 63 (C. T. S. edit., London). 



(а) In Their Positive Legal Enactments. — The laws of 
divorce (which are essentially immoral) now existing in 
the United States of America, in most countries of the 
British Empire, and in practically all the countries of Europe, 
except Ireland and Italy, strike at the very foundations 
of family life. In like manner laws interfering with the 
parents’ control over their children ; laws of property or 
inheritance tending to divide or break up the family home- 
stead ; or to lessen unduly the authority of the parents ; 
or to make the parents independent of each other, are out 
of harmony with the natural organism of family life, and 
tend strongly to injure and weaken it. 

In the same category must be included the educational 
systems in which the State assumes to itself the control of 
the children’s education, defraying the cost, specifying the 
educational programmes, and in some cases even appointing 
the school to which the child must go. These systems, 
which have already wrought unspeakable havoc in America 
and several European States, are an outcome of the baneful 
influence of Liberalism. They are subversive of the natural 
organism of the family, and so are opposed to the natural 
and Divine law. 

(б) In Neglecting Their Duty to Protect Family Interests. — 

But it is not alone by positive laws and administrative 
action that modern governments fail in their duties towards 
the family. Their sins of negligence and omission are no 
less serious. Led astray by the principles of unchristian 
Liberalism, they tend to regard the State as a society 
composed of isolated individuals towards whom the Govern- 
ment’s primary duties lie. Hence, while the special claims 
of the capitalists, the workers, the industrial and pro- 
fessional classes, the agricultural portion of the community, 
the women, are more or less recognised, the rights of the 
father of the family as such are largely ignored. The claims 
of the family to special protection and assistance from the 
Government, so that its unity and integrity be preserved 
and strengthened, the purity of its domestic life safeguarded, 
its fecundity encouraged and promoted — these claims receive 
little or no recognition in legislation, administration or 
programmes of social reconstruction. 

Many States place no legal restraint upon the propagation 



of doctrines or practices advocating or facilitating the 
unnatural vice of birth-control, or race-suicide, although 
this, like divorce, is directly subversive of the principles of 
family life, and opposed to the primary domestic obligations . 1 
The activities of a more or less immoral press and a still 
more immoral cinema, the tendency of which is to make 
light of, or even turn into ridicule, the most sacred domestic 
ties — the relations between husband and wife and those 
between parent and child — are allowed to go on without 
sufficient censorship or restraint . 2 

“ Now, alas,” writes Pius XI, “ not secretly or under cover, but 
openly, with all sense of shame put aside, at one time by word, 
at another by writings, by theatrical productions of every kind, 
by romantic fiction, by amorous and frivolous novels, by cine- 
matographs portraying in vivid scene, by addresses broadcast, 
by radio and telephony, in short, by all the inventions of modem 
science, the sanctity of marriage is trampled upon and derided : 
divorce, adultery, all the basest vices are extolled, or at least 
depicted in such glowing colours, as to appear to be free of all 
reproach and infamy. Books are not lacking, which dare to 
call themselves scientific ... in order that they may more 
easily insinuate their ideas. . . . 

“ These thoughts are instilled into men of every class, rich 
and poor, workers and employers, lettered and illiterate, married 
and single, the godly and the godless, old and young ; but for 
these last, as being easier prey, the worst snares are laid. . . . 

“ There are those who, striving as it were to ride a middle 
course, believe, nevertheless, that something should be conceded 
in our time, as regards certain precepts of the divine and natural 
law. But these likewise, more or less willingly, are emissaries 
of the great enemy who is ever seeking to sow cockle among the 
wheat .” 3 

Tho writings and propaganda here stigmatised by the 
Pope, and the opinions and practices to which they lead, 
are in reality more harmful to the good and stability of the 
State than the preaching of sedition or the advocacy of 
highway robbery ; and under a really Christian government. 

1 Even in Ireland (1931) there exists no legal restraint to the import 
and open sale of contraceptives. 

2 Very many, if not most of the British non-Catholic newspapers which 
even now (1931) are allowed to circulate freely in Ireland, propagate directly 
or indirectly not only infidelity, but immoral or degrading practices of 
various kinds, such as excessive gambling, and sensual vice. 

3 Casti Connubii (Dec., 1930), pp. 22, 23. 



they would be prevented as effectively, and punished with 
no less severity. 

Changes Urgently Needed. — Divorce laws should be 
abolished. The crime of seduction and all kinds of public 
incentives to the vice of unchastity, whether within or 
without the married state, should be kept in check by the 
arm of the law. The so-called “ White Slave Traffic,” one 
of the most hideous and shameful features of modem neo- 
pagan civilisation, should be strenuously hunted down and 
destroyed. The work of married women in factories, so 
injurious to the character of the home, where the mother’s 
presence is usually necessary, should be abolished or kept 
within very strict limits . 1 

“ Intolerable,” writes Pius XI, “ and to be opposed with all 
our strength, is the abuse whereby mothers of families, because 
of the insufficiency of the father’s salary, are forced to engage 
in gainful occupations outside the domestic walls, to the neglect 
of their own proper cares and duties, particularly the education 
of their children.” 2 

While the wife, and still more the widow, should get 
adequate protection, the law should not (as modern English 
law now tends to do) excessively favour independent 
proprietorship between husband and wife, whose interests, 
according to Christian principles, are, and should be, in- 
separable. 3 The earnings of sons and daughters during their 
minority should be left by law under the control of the 
parents. In every detail of the educational system the 
interests of the family should be made a primary con- 
sideration. 4 

In the distribution of the franchise, and in the allotment 
of the public burdens, everything possible should be done 
to enhance the prestige of the family and the privileges of 

1 Cf. Leo XIII — Rerum Novarum, p. 156 ; also Ryan and Hussclcin — 
The Church and Labour, pp. 174, 175. 

2 Quadragesimo Anno (C. T. S. edit.), p. 33. 

3 Cf. the words of Pius XI on this subject : “ It is part of the duty of 
the public authority to adapt the civil rights of the wife to modern needs 
and requirements, keeping in view what the natural disposition and 
temperament of the female sex, good morality and the welfare of the 
family demand, and provided always that the essential order of domestic 
society remain intact, founded as it is . . . on the authority and wisdom 
of God, and so not changeable by public laws, or at the pleasure of private 
individuals ” ( Casti Connubii , p. 37). 

4 Cf. Devas, loc. cit. 



the head of the family. In the land laws, the laws of in- 
heritance, the schemes of social reconstruction, the main 
object to be kept in view should be family interest. 

All - public activities which may either directly or in- 
directly prove dangerous to the interests of the home or the 
purity of domestic life, such as the immoral press and 
cinema, the drink traffic, betting and gambling activities, 
the publication of betting and gambling news, should be 
suppressed or kept within strict control by the arm of the 
law, for all these are a manifest and acknowledged source 
of danger to domestic interests, and can be effectively kept 
in check only by public authority. 

Art. 2 — The Family Homestead 

Material Conditions of the Family — Christian State Policy. — 

Not only should the State safeguard the moral interests of 
the home, but it should take measures to protect and promote 
the material interests also. The aim of its policy should 
be to secure that each and every family within the State 
should have, or be in a position to acquire, secure possession 
of a suitable homestead, and should have also a fair oppor- 
tunity of acquiring sufficient material prosperity. For 
family life cannot flourish nor duly function without a 
suitable homestead and sufficient means for a modest 
maintenance. This matter touches on the primary functions 
of the governing authority. Every one has a right to live 
on the earth’s bounty, and no head of a family can be 
justly denied a fair opportunity of securing for himself and 
those depending on him a suitable home and means of 
livelihood, which would be sufficiently permanent and secure. 

“ Since it is no rare thing,” writes Pius XI, “ to find that the 
perfect observance of God’s commandments and conjugal in- 
tegrity encounter difficulties because the married parties are 
distressed by straitened circumstances, their necessities must be 
relieved as far as possible. ... In the State such economic and 
social conditions should be set up as will enable every head of 
a family to earn as much as according to his station in life is 
necessary for himself, his wife, and the rearing of his children 
. . . If families particularly those in which there are many 
children have not suitable dwellings : if the husband cannot find 
employment . . . it is patent to all how great a peril can arise to 
public security : and to the welfare and the very 7 life of civil 
society itself .” 1 

1 Casti Connubii (C. T. S. edit.), p. 62. 


The Town Family. — There is no need to stress the point 
that neither the slum dwellings of the modern cities nor 
even lodgings or flats meet these requirements. Hence, there 
is need of a broad and far-reaching state policy which would 
aim at the gradual elimination of the slum dwellings and the 
formation round the towns of great city gardens in which 
each family would own a permanent home, with a suitable 
plot of land attached. In matters such as these, where 
elementary human rights are at stake, the so-called “ vested 
rights ” of property owners, must yield, as far as is necessary, 
before the claims of social justice. 

The Rural Family — (a) Its Fundamental Importance. — 

Even of greater urgency and importance for all the best 
interests of the State are the claims of the rural population. 
Few things are more important for the stability and security 
of the State than the existence within it of a dominating 
number of small village and rural proprietors, each enjoying 
means for a modest but sufficient livelihood, and each secure 
in the permanent possession of his own small homestead. We 
have already referred to the well-known social phenomenon 
that urban families die out after a few generations, and that 
the urban populations survive only by means of constant 
supplies from the country. Hence the rural population is 
the real mainstay of the nation. 

Besides, as a rule, it is only in the country that the family 
is attached to a particular locality and a hereditary home. 
It is this stable 1 rural population whose interests and 
traditions are intimately associated with the very soil of 
their country, that form the core and strength of a nation. 
It is from them that the most vigorous type of citizen comes, 
and among them that the best fruits of true patriotism are 

1 The family that is attached to an ancestial home and estate, which 
pass on within the same stock from generation to generation more easily 
preserves the ancestral family traditions and ideals, and thus becomes 
what is called the stable family (cf . the law of Entail in English legal system) . 
The family, on the other hand, in which there is no hereditary home 
belonging to the family as such, usually loses the family tradition, as the 
members all scatter or migrate. This type is called the unstable family. 
Thus the families of the feudal classes and of the agricultural population 
of mediaeval times were stable families ; so, too, were the families of the 
Gaelic rural population of Ireland before the 17th century. Town dwellers, 
the trading and professional classes, floating populations of all kinds belong 
mainly to the category of the unstable family. 


to l)e found. Hence it has always been the policy of 
enlightened statesmen to strengthen and stabilise the rural 
population. 1 

(6) Its Loss Irremediable. — There is a further consideration 
which makes this policy specially important. It is com- 
paratively easy to produce an industrial population or a 
professional class. But a permanent rural population 
cannot be created to order. Town dwellers cannot, as a 
rule, be successfully transplanted into the country. A 
peasant population must be the result of a growth of 
generations. Hence, Goldsmith’s well-known words are 
true : 

“ A brave peasantry, the country’s pride. 

When once destroyed, can never be supplied.” 

(c) Special Protection Essential. — The mediaeval serf and 
his family, although enjoying little or no political rights, 
were secure (being protected by custom which had the 
force of law) in the possession of a modest estate which 
neither the serf nor the feudal lord had power to alienate. 
This custom, besides maintaining the stability of the rural 
population, also secured that the serf and his family were 
always certain of shelter, clothing and plenty of substantial 
food. Similar protection is afforded by law to small pro- 
prietors in some of the countries of Europe where Christian 
ideals of government still retain their hold. 

The Homestead Exemption Laws of very many of the 
States of the American Union afford an example of the form 
which such protection may assume. According to the 
general trend of these laws, which differ in detail in various 
States, the homestead, including the farm and the buildings 
thereon up to a certain moderate value, cannot be seized 
or sold for any debt except taxes and money due for purchase 
or improvements. Neither can the homestead be mortgaged 
without the written consent of both parents ; and, even 
when the homestead is alienated, the householder still 
retains certain essential claims upon it for some time. 
When the householder dies, the widow cannot be disturbed 
during her life, nor any of the children till they attain their 
majority. Other provisions give the family inalienable 

l Cf. Shove, op. cit., chaps, i to iv. 



rights to certain necessary goods such as tools, the imple- 
ments of the family profession, personal belongings, etc., 
of which they cannot be deprived for any kind of debt . 1 

Destruction of Rural Homes. — In Ireland the destruction 
of rural homes, the dispersion of families, and the uprooting 
of family traditions have gone on steadily for over a century. 
Between 1841 and 1901, what with famines, evictions and 
the activities of village usurers, all created or protected by 
the “ law,” more than half a million Catholic rural home- 
steads were destroyed, and the families scattered or driven 
into exile . 2 3 The movement of rural depopulation still 
(1931) goes on. Unless it be effectually checked and the 
tide turned, the practical extinction of the old Irish nation 
seems inevitable. 

Stablising the Irish Rural Population. — At present nothing 
is more urgently needed in Ireland than to stabilise and 
increase the rural population. This seems to be still quite 
feasible. For although the peasant population are (or 
were up to 1931, when the industrial conditions in U.S.A. 
checked the movement, at least temporarily) emigrating at 
the rate of tens of thousands each year mainly as a result 
of economic pressure, a very large percentage of those that 
go could still be saved to their own country if only they 
had means of an adequate livelihood. There are in Ireland 
immense tracts of uncultivated and mostly uninhabited 
land, some of which is very fertile. To replant under suit- 
able conditions the sons and daughters of the disinherited 
peasantry who now emigrate, on the uncultivated lands 
is generally recognised as an obvious and urgent need, and 

1 See Devas — Political Economy, bk. ii, chap. xi. Old Irish law afforded 

similar protection for tools and some other necessaries. 

3 According to Mulhall’s Dictionary of Statistics the total number of 
inhabited houses in Ireland in 1841 was 1,328,000 ; and the average size 
of the family in each house was 6.2. In 1901 the number of inhabited 
houses was reduced to 858,158. The decrease (469,842) in the number 
of inhabited houses does not convey an adequate idea of the extent of 
the destruction of rural homes ; for although the bulk of the disinherited 
families went into exile, a considerable proportion migrated to the cities, 
some of which as a consequence grew in population during the same 
period : hence the exceptionally large slum population of the present day. 



should be the aim of an Irish government. The acquisition 
of the land (without confiscation) can be facilitated by 
suitable land laws and a national financial system in harmony 
with the country’s needs. 

A New (or Newly Settled) Peasant Population. — The new 

peasant population should be, broadly speaking, of two 
types, viz., agricultural labourers and small farmers. The 
former are essential if the more extensive farmers, as distinct 
from the ranchers, are to remain, and to cultivate their land . 
The condition of these labourers can be made quite comfort- 
able, if each labourer have a cottage and a plot of land 
sufficient to maintain a milch cow, a pig and some poultry, 
and to supply the family with vegetables. Probably about 
three statute acres w'ould be the amount requiied. 

The cottier or smaller holdings should be large enough 
to maintain the cottier family in comfort, and small enough 
to necessitate diligent and continuous work. The proper 
size would be somewhere between twelve and twenty-four 
statute acres of arable land of average fertility. 

Restrictive Laws Essential. — Peasant proprietorship of 
itself, however, will not produce a stable rural population. 
The history of all nations tends to show that for the pre- 
servation of a peasant population the cottier must not have 
the power freely to sell, mortgage or unduly subdivide the 
holding. If he have, the peasant holdings will sooner or 
later become absorbed by the large owners, or by the 
moneyed interest. 1 Hence, although the cottier and the 

1 For an excellent and illuminating historical review of this whole 
question, cf. Meyer et Ardant — La Question Agraire (Paris, Retaux-Bray, 
1887). See also Devas — Political Economy (Index sub verbo “ Family”). 
The following passage from Devas’s Studies of Family Life (p. 178) in 
reference to the Hungarian peasantry is interesting and instructive in this 
connection : " There were also [viz., before 1848, the year of the first 

Revolution, which led eventually to the setting up of the Liberal Con- 
titution] great prosperity and security among the rural population being 
protected by a feudal constitution. The land was mostly held on a tenure 
of service (tilling the lord’s soil) ; the peasant’s holding was not divisible 
beyond a certain limit ... no mortgaging was possible. By the changes 
that followed the troubles of 1848, completed after 1866 [viz., the Liberal 
movement and revolution under Kossuth], the peasants, now become in- 
dependent proprietors, were left defenceless, and a swarm of Jewish usurers 
descended upon them, and filled the land with desolation and woe. . . . 



labourer should own their holdings, certain restrictions 
should be imposed withholding power to sell, mortgage or 
subdivide at least beyond certain specified limits. The 
family should, besides, be protected by a suitable type of 
Household Exemption laws. The owner should have testa- 
mentary rights at least within the limits of his own family. 
But in no case should any one be allowed the ownership 
of a holding except he actually live on it. 

New Scheme Suggested. — Possibly the best way to replant 
the uncultivated lands would be by settling rural colonies 
of cottiers around some kind of central institution which 
would conduct a model farm and by means of which all 
the cottiers would be linked up into a co-operative com- 
munity. If, in addition the future cottiers had to spend a 
few years apprenticeship in the central institution before 
being qualified for an allotment, matters would be still 
further facilitated, and the prospects of success increased. 

During the years of apprenticeship the young men could 
by their own co-operative labour fence off and erect the 
necessary buildings on their future holdings. On these 
they would be settled in turn and get full control after a 
few years, according as the initial expenses had been 

If laws were passed facilitating the formation of such 
voluntary institutions, and also facilitating the acquisition 
by them of lands, for the purpose of distribution ; and con- 
ferring besides on tho rural colonies thus formed certain 
statutory privileges, including a municipal charter for 
independent local administration, the needed organisations, 
religious or otherwise, for conducting the scheme, would 
gradually spring up, and as a result of experience would 
soon evolve suitable methods. Thus a corporative rural 
organisation would in time develop forming the base of 
a stable and substantially self-contained peasant State — 

In ten years over five hundred thousand farmers and over thirteen hundred 
thousand farm labourers were swept away ! ! In the single year, 1878, 
the compulsory sales of lands numbered 15,285, and the proceeds of these 
sales fell short by over eight million florins of the debts they were meant 
to cover.” Cf. also Rev. Inlernat. des Soc. Seer (ties (1931, No. 5), pp. 105 ff, 
for some account of the destructive influence of the Jewish usurers and 
financiers on the land question in Austria-Hungary. 


the ideal at which the world’s best statesmen have always 
aimed. It seems certain that it is only by means of 
voluntary and free organisations, assisted from State 
sources, and self-contained rural co-operative colonies 
coalescing into a co-operative civic organisation, that the 
Irish rural population can be saved. 1 

1 Cf. Land for the People, a Scotch quarterly, edited by Rev. J. McQuillan, 
D.D., Bearsden Seminary, Glasgow, for an account of a scheme for 
initiating Catholic rural Colonies in Scotland on lines somewhat similar 
to those here indicated. For the success of any such scheme, however, 
the impossibility of turning town dwellers, at least on a large scale, into 
peasant farmers cannot be lost sight of. 



Art. 1 — The Marriage Contract 1 

Meaning and Purpose of Marriage. — The conjugal society 
is the foundation of the family. The term marriage is some- 
times used to denote the contract upon which the union is 
founded ; sometimes to mean the union itself as a permanent 
state. In the latter sense it may be described as the per- 
manent union between man and woman , made under contract, 
and having for its object the birth and education of children, 
and mutual help and companionship. 

The primary end of marriage is the birth and education 
of children. Thus marriage is absolutely necessary for 
the good, and even for the existence of the race. For, 
according to the natural and Divine law, the propagation 
of the human race cannot be attained or attempted outside 
the married state. The other purpose of marriage indicated 
in the definition, namely, mutual help and companionship 
between husband and wife, though not so essential to the 
human race as the primary purpose, also responds to needs 
of human nature. Hence it is assigned by the natural law 
as a secondary end of the conjugal union, and in practice 
is very often the principal motive that impels the parties 
to contract the marriage. 

The sexes are intended to be complementary of each 
other, one possessing in capabilities and needs what the 
other lacks. And so as each sex is incomplete in itself, not 
representing human nature in its fulness, the Deity has 
implanted in both a mutual attraction for each other ; 
and in the intimate union of two persons of opposite sexes 

1 The classical Documents on Marriage are the Encyclical of Pius XI, 
Casti Connubii (Dec. 31, 1930), already referred to, and that of Leo 
XIII- — Arcanum Divince (1880) ; cf. also Rerum Novarum (1891) and 
Tnscrutabili (1878). See also Castelein, op. cit., Theses 16 and 17; Donat, op. 
cit., sect, iii, cap. ii ; Costa-Rosetti, op. cit.. Theses 141— 143 ; Balmes — 
European Civilisation, chaps, xxiv— xxvi ; Gannon — Holy Matrimony 
(London, 1927) ; Cronin — Science of Ethics, vol. ii, chaps, xiii and xiv ; Cath. 
Encyclop., arts. “ Marriage," " Divorce," etc. 




in one closely-knit society, such as nature has ordained in 
the married state, each party finds greater happiness and 
content, and realises, as it were, a greater and more complete 
fulness of life. 

“ Not only was marriage intended for the propagation of the 
human race,” writes Leo XIII, " but also that the lives of 
husband and wife might be better and happier .” 1 

Marriage Contract a Divine Institution. — The marriage 
compact upon which the union of husband and wife is 
founded, results, like other contracts, from the free consent 
of the parties concerned. The marriage contract is, how- 
ever, peculiar in this that it has been directly instituted by 
God ; and all its essential features arranged by Him at the 
first creation of man. This is clearly conveyed by the in- 
spired writer in the Book of Genesis, where the first marriage, 
between man and woman is described : “ But for man 

there was not found a helper like himself. Then God cast a 
deep sleep upon Adam ; and when he was fast asleep, He 
took one of his ribs, and filled up flesh for it. And the Lord 
built the rib which He took from Adam into a woman ; and 
brought her to Adam. And Adam said . ‘ This is bone of 
my bone, and flesh of my flesh . . . wherefore a man shall 
leave father and mother and shall cleave to his wife ; and they 
shall be two in one flesh.’ ” 2 

Hence the character of the matrimonial union, and the 
mutual rights and obligations of the married pair, being 
founded upon man’s nature and ordained by the Divine 
law, must continue unchanged as long as human nature 
remains as it is. Marriage has not been inaptly compared 
by Christian writers to the Tree of Knowledge in Paradise 
with which human interference was forbidden under pain 
of death. For history amply proves that respect for the 
marriage tie, and for all that it implies, is a question of life 
and death for human society ; and no nation can long 
survive which attempts to withdraw or change any of the 
essential attributes which the Deity has attached to the 
institution of marriage. 

And a Foreshadowing of the Incarnation. — Not only was 
marriage instituted directly by God, but even from the 

1 Arcanum Divines, p. 35. 2 Genesis ii, 1-24. 



beginning it was a kind of foreshadowing of the Incarnation. 
The close union between husband and wife was intended 
by God to be a type of the union between His Divine Son 
and human nature. Accordingly, from the creation of man, 
there always was in the matrimonial union an element of 
religion and holiness, “ not extraneous but innate, not 
derived from man, but implanted by nature .” 1 Not only 
among the Jews, but even among the pagan nations of the 
Gentiles, this element of religion was commonly acknow- 
ledged ; and marriage was usually celebrated “ with 
religious ceremonies, under the authority of pontiffs, and 
with tho ministry of priests .” 2 

It is only in our own days, and as a result of the un- 
precedented revolt of the nations against the authority of 
God and the teachings of the natural law', that men have 
attempted to degrade the marriage compact into a merely 
human institution, and to subject it in its very essence to 
the arbitrary control of human laws. 

And a Sacrament. — By reason of the transcending im- 
portance of the marriage contract for all the highest 
interests of the human race, Our Lord elevated it to the 
dignity of a sacrament. Hence Christians cannot validly 
marry without receiving a sacrament. In other words, 
the marriage contract itself is a sacrament for them. It 
confers grace, consecrating the perpetual union of the 
married pair, and ensuring them special supernatural aids 
to fulfil their obligations, and even to acquire holiness. 

Furthermore, the mystical significance of the matrimonial 
union, which existed from the beginning in a fainter and 
less developed degree, has become under the New Law a 
dofinite figure and representation of the mystical union of 
Christ with His Church. Thus, under the Christian dis- 
pensation, the union and natural love between husband and 
wife have been raised to a higher plane by the addition of 
supernatural motives and the infusion of supernatural grace. 
For the husband should love and honour his wife even as 
Christ loves His Church. 

Christianity has, besides, ennobled marriage by assigning 
to it “ a higher and nobler purpose than was ever previously 

1 Deo XIII — Arcanum Divines, p. 31. 2 lb. 



given to it” ; 1 for, according to the law of Christ, marriage 
has for its object not merely the propagation of the human 
race, but the bringing forth of children for the Church, who 
are to be the “ fellow-citizens of the saints, and the domestics 
of God ” ; 2 so that “a people may be born and brought 
up for the worship and religion of the true God and our 
Saviour Jesus Christ .” 3 

Attributes ol Christian Marriage. — The Christian ideal of 
marriage, which, in fact, only develops and defines more 
clearly the ordinances of the natural law, is sometimes ex- 
pressed in the formula, “ One with one, exclusively and 
for ever.” Hence marriage, according to Christian law, 
possesses the following five essential attributes : 

(a) Strict Unity. — Christian marriage excludes Polygamy 
of any kind. Polygamy may take the form of Polygyny 
where a man has more than one wife, or that of Polyandry, 
where a woman would have more than a single husband. 
Polyandry is clearly opposed to the primary ends of 
marriage, and so is evidently forbidden by the law of nature. 
Polygyny is not so clearly opposed to the natural law as 
polyandry ; for in polygyny, the primary purposes of the 
matrimonial union, namely, the birth and education of 
children, are still attainable. Thus it was that by a special 
dispensation of God, the Mosaic law, while upholding the 
marriage of strict unity and perpetuity as the type accepted 
by the nation, and the one desired and aimed at by God, 
made such concession to the ingrained prejudices and habits 
of Eastern peoples, as to tolerate among the Jews polygyny 
and divorce in certain cases, till the people would be so far 
elevated and trained as to allow of their complete abolition. 
Under the Christian law all such concessions are withdrawn ; • 
and polygyny is regarded like polyandry and complete 
divorce as essentially unlawful and immoral. Nothing is 
more striking in the history of the Catholic Church than 
the uncompromising attitude which she has always main- 
tained on this question, even when the most far-reaching 
interests would seem to be involved, and when all the 

1 Leo XIII — Arcanum Divines, p. 28. 2 Epk. ii, 19. 

3 Catechu Rom., c. viii. 



dictates of human prudence would urge concession and 

Polygyny is an outrage on the dignity of the woman, 
who by it is necessarily placed in an inferior position, 
contrary to the natural law which claims for her equal 
personal rights with the man. It leads inevitably to dis- 
sensions and jealousy. A plurality of wives would render 
impossible the mutual help and companionship and close 
friendship between husband and wife, which is one of the 
ends of marriage proposed by the natural law. Again, 
without promoting the propagation of the race — for ex- 
perience teaches that the population does not increase more 
rapidly with polygyny than with monogyny — -polygyny 
renders more difficult the education of the children, for 
whose proper up-bringing the close co-operation of both 
parents is essential. The energy, enterprise, and moral and 
physical strength of the European races, as contrasted with 
the decrepit and effeminate character of those of the East, 
furnish a striking example of the effects of monogyny upon 
the character and morals of a people. 

(b) Perpetual Stability. — Tliis attribute excludes all possi- 
bility of divorce, at least when the marriage contract is 
consummated. Our Divine Lord expressly withdrew the 
concession granted to the Jews regarding divorce which had 
been made temporarily, but by Divine authority, owing to 
their “ hardness of heart.” Divorce is destructive of the 
primary end of marriage, which is the good of the offspring. 
For when the union between the parents is severed, their 
due co-operation in the up-bringing of the children becomes 
impossible, and all the interests of the latter suffer. The 
possibility of divorce tends to obstruct fatally the secondary 
end of marriage, which implies the most intimate and perfect 
friendship between husband and wife. Divorce or its possi- 
bility, as experience only too clearly shows, opens the flood- 
gates to immorality. Finally, divorce is specially injurious 
to the woman, whose dignity and secure position in the 
home inevitably suffer where divorce prevails. 

(c) Perfect and Permanent Fidelity. — This obligation binds 
both parties equally. This law of Christian marriage is in 
striking contrast with the principles of pagan philosophy 



and pagan law, and with the civil law of many modern 
states. Neither Christian teaching nor the natural law 
condones infidelity to matrimonial obligations in the 
husband any more than in the wife. 

(d) Equality in Primary Rights. — In respect of the primary 
marital rights and obligations, husband and wife are equal. 
The rehabilitation of the woman in the natural position in 
which she was first created, as the companion of her husband, 
and his equal in all essential personal rights, his “ helper, 
like himself,” 1 is one of the great glories of Christianity. 
This natural equality follows from the fact that both are 
equally persons, possessing immortal souls and destined 
to eternal happiness. 

(e) Inequality, Tempered with Love in Ruling the 
Family. — Though husband and wife are equal in dignity 
and essential rights, nevertheless, since they (with the 
children, if there be such) form a society, and since a society 
is impossible without a recognised head, there must be some 
head to the family. Tor this purpose the natural law has 
marked out the man rather than the woman ; seeing that 
nature has given to him qualities which, generally speaking, 
render him more suitable than her for the duty of ruler. 
And so, although the wife, as a human person, is equal to 
her husband, she is subject to his authority as a wife and 
a member of the domestic society, just as a citizen in the 
state is subject to the authority of the ruler to whom, never- 
theless, he is equal as a human person. 2 The natural law, 
which ordains the submission of the wife to the rule of the 
husband, also ordains that that rule be tempered with love 

1 Genesis ii, 20. 

2 The classical passage of St. Thomas in which this principle is elaborated 
runs as follows : 

“There are two kinds of subordination. One is that of the slave. In 
this the one who commands (preesidens), utilises for his own benefit the 
persons subject to him. Such subordination came into the world as the 
result of sin. The other type of subordination is economic or civil. In 
this the person that commands others, docs so for the good or utility of 
the subject. This type of subordination existed even before sin came into 
the world. ... It is in virtue of such subordination that the wife is by 
the natural law made subject to her husband ; nor is it true that such 
inequality was absent even in the state of innocence ” (r. Q. xcii, a. I, 
ad 2 um ). Cf. also infra, chap, xix, art. 4. 



and reverence for the dignity of the wife, whom nature 
marks out as the manager of the household and her husband’s 
most intimate friend. 

" The man,” writes Leo XIII, " is the ruler of the family and 
the head of the woman ; but because she is flesh of his flesh and 
bone of his bone, let her be subject and obedient to the man, 
not as a servant but as a companion, so that nothing be lacking 
of honour or of dignity in the obedience which she gives .” 1 

This duty of conjugal obedience, its nature and limitations 
are more fully explained by Pius XI in the following 
important passage of his Encyclical on Christian Marriage : 

“ This subjection, however, does not deny or take away the 
liberty which fully belongs to the woman both in view of her 
dignity as a human person, and in view of her most noble office 
as wife and mother and companion ; nor does it bid her obey 
her husband’s every request, if not in harmony with right reason 
or with the dignity due to wife ; nor, in fine, does it imply that 
the wife should be put on a level with those persons who in 
law are called minors, to whom it is not customary to allow free 
exercise of their rights on account of their lack of mature judg- 
ment, or of their ignorance of human affairs. But it forbids 
that exaggerated liberty which cares not for the good of the 
family ; it forbids that in the body which is the family, the heart 
be separated from the head to the great detriment of the whole 
body and the proximate danger of ruin. For if the man is the 
head the woman is the heart, and as he occupies the chief place 
in ruling, so she may and ought to claim for herself the chief 
place in love. 

“ Again, the subjection of wife to husband in its degree and 
manner may vary according to the different conditions of persons 
place and time. In fact if the husband neglect his duty, it falls 
to the wife to take his place in directing the family. But the 
structure of the family and its fundamental law, established and 
confirmed by God, must always and everywhere remain intact .” 2 

The last sentence of the above passage is manifestly 
added by the Pope in order to reassert the principle from 
which he had set out and in support of which he quotes 
St. Paul 3 and Leo XIII, that “the husband is the ruler of 
the family, and the head of the woman.” The Holy Father 
concludes by quoting a passage from Leo XHI, which 
summarises the whole doctrine, and at the same time 

1 Arcanum Divines, p. 28. 

2 Casii Connubii (Dec. 31, 1930), pp. 13, 14. 3 1 Cor. vii, 3. 



indicates the only effectual means that can ensure its 
realisation : 

“ Since the husband represents Christ, and since the wife 
represents the Church, let divine charity be the constant guide 
of their mutual relations, both in him who rules and in her who 
obeys, since each bears the image, the one of Christ, and the other 
of the Church .” 1 

Church’s High Esteem of Marriage. — Although, according 
to Christian teaching, the union of man and woman in 
marriage is partly designed to satisfy human needs and 
tendencies, it must not be supposed that in the Christian 
ideal marriage is regarded in any way as a mere concession 
to human weakness, allowed by God in order that worse 
evils may be avoided. In contrast with the Manichean 
and other heretical sects, and the errors of Buddhism, the 
Christian law regards marriage as a good thing in itself, 
and the married state as a holy state, and one peculiarly 
blessed by God, and commended in the strongest terms by 
Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is, in fact, the state to which 
the vast majority of the human race are called. 

No characteristic is more remarkable in the life of Our 
Divine Lord than His reverence for the married state. He 
begins His life on earth by blessing, through the visit of 
His Mother, the home of St. Elizabeth, from whose married 
life He had by miracle removed the reproach of sterility ; 
and He sanctified her infant son wdiile still in his mother’s 
womb. Later on, He opens His public life by blessing with 
His Divine presence the marriage feast of Cana ; and He 
works His first miracle in favour of the praiseworthy and 
natural rejoicing which the marriage celebration had called 
forth. The three miracles recorded in the Gospel in which 
families gathered together on the sanctuary of the home ; 
and the three miracles recorded in the Gospel in which 
Our Lord restored the dead to life were all performed by 
'Him in sympathy with that sacred family affection which 
is so closely connected with the married life . 2 Hence St. 
Paul lays down that marriage “is a great Sacrament ,” 3 
and that “ It is honourable in all .” 4 

1 lb., and Arcanum Divines. 2 Cf. Castclcin, op. cit., pp. 533-536. 

3 Eph. v, 32. 4 Heb. xiii, 4. 



Excellence of Celibacy Practised from Supernatural 
Motives. — All this is quite consistent with the fact that the 
Church regards a life of perpetual virginity, dedicated to 
God, as a better and higher state even than marriage, and 
a state to which many are called. For though marriage is 
obligatory on the race as a whole, the precept does not fall 
upon every individual ; and no particular person is bound 
by it, as long as the object of the precept, namely, the 
propagation of the race, is sufficiently attained. This 
reasoning has all the greater force if, as is the fact, a greater 
and higher good is seemed for the human race when some 
individuals abstain from marriage from supernatural motives. 

The reasons for the higher excellence of virginity dedicated 
to God are easily understood. A life of religious celibacy, 
undertaken from supernatural motives, implies a more 
complete self-denial, and, therefore, a closer imitation of 
the Divine Founder of Christianity ; for in such a life the 
lower tendencies of human nature are more completely 
subject to the higher. Furthermore, such a life affords a 
better opportunity for prayer and close union with God. 
The celibate, besides, can devote himself more completely 
to the service of others ; for “ charity will hardly water the 
ground, when it must first fill up a pool.” 1 And last, but 
not least, the higher example of self-control given by the 
large number of Catholics who lead a self-denying life in 
the celibate state makes it easier for the mass of men to 
observe the chastity that is obligatory within the married 
state. The celibate lives of the Catholic priests and religious 
of both sexes have influenced deeply the character of 
Christian society. They have especially served to raise 
the general moral standard. Also the religious life of 
virgins consecrated to God has been a very important factor 
in raising the social standing and prestige of the Christian 
woman ; for it gives her an important function in Christian 
society quite independent of the other sex. 

Art. 2 — Non-Christian Attitude Towards Marriage 2 

Usurpation of Control by Civil Power. — An unchristian 
attitude towards marriage is often adopted not merely by 

1 “ Bacon’s Essays "—Marriage. 

2 Cf. Devas — Studies of Family Life, parts i and iii. 



the pagan and Mohammedan nations hut also by many of 
those which are still nominally Christian. 

A necessary consequence of the Divine dispensation 
which makes marriage between Christians a sacrament, and 
of its higher religious significance as typifying the union 
of Christ with the Church, is that the marriage contract 
has been taken entirely from under the control of the civil 
power. The attitude assumed by so many governments 
in Europe and America towards the marriage contract 
implies a usurpation of powers quite outside their juris- 
diction. Ignoring the conditions laid down by the Church 
(which is the only competent authority) for the validity 
of marriage between Christians, the State has instituted 
what are commonly called “ civil marriages.” Such unions, 
at least in the case of Catholics, are not marriages, hut 
simple concubinage. In the same spirit of usurpation these 
states establish matrimonial impediments, and refuse to 
acknowledge as valid the marriages in which their un- 
authorised laws are disregarded. They have, besides, set 
up matrimonial courts, which presume to give decisions 
affecting the marriage contract, deciding questions of 
disputed validity, or allowing the married pair to live apart, 
to the violation or detriment of matrimonial duties. 

In all this the action of the State, at least in so far as 
it is devoid of any authority or delegation from the eccle- 
siastical rulers, is invalid and immoral, being a usurpation 
of authority entirely reserved by the Divine law to the 
Church. But these states go farther, and “ worst scandal 
of all, and most injurious to public morality,” 1 they presume, 
in defiance of God’s law, to issue decrees of complete 
divorce, thus usurping a power which God ha3 expressly 
reserved from the jurisdiction of any human tribunal — 
for “ What God has joined let no man put asunder ,” 2 is a 
divine command. 

The legitimate extent of civil authority in regard to 
Christian marriage is limited to two functions, namely, to 
safeguard, and, when necessary, to enforce the rights of 
the parties, and, secondly, to regulate and define certain 
civil consequences or accompaniments of marriage, con- 

1 Leo XIII, lb. 

2 Matt. xix. 6, 



cerning such matters as property and inheritance. Any 
unauthorised action of the State beyond these limits is an 
act of tyranny and usurpation, and tends directly to the 
degradation and ruin of human society. 

Marriage among Pagans. — Although marriage, as originally 
instituted by God, possessed all the essential characteristics 
which now belong to Christian marriage, this ideal got 
obscured in pre-Christian times in proportion as the morals 
of human society became corrupt. Polygamy, in one form 
or another (sometimes, as among the ancient Romans, taking 
the form of legalised concubinage), and divorce have been 
always very common among non-Christian nations, both 
before and after the beginning of the Christian era. The 
facility of divorce among the ancient Greeks and Romans 
of the classical period, and the universal immorality of the 
grossest kind, of which that custom was an indication and 
a partial cause, are among the most repulsive features of 
the ancient pagan civilisation. 

Again, if we except the Jews and a few pagan nations, 
among which are to he numbered the very early Egyptians, 
with whom the woman seems to have had a position of 
exceptional dignity and independence, the wife’s social 
status was generally very low before the Christian era ; as 
it still is among the non-Christian nations of the world. 
Among the barbarians, she frequently became a wife through 
captivity or purchase. Even among the most civilised 
nations, such as the Greeks and Romans, the wife w r as 
generally regarded as the husband’s property, and had little 
or no personal rights secured her by law. Nowhere was the 
husband bound by the same laws of fidelity to the marriage 
obligations as the wife. 

Among Mohammedans. — The outstanding feature of mar- 
riage among the Mohammedans is polygyny and, as a con- 
sequence, the low status of the woman. The woman is 
looked upon as belonging to a lower degree of humanity. 
She is accounted higher, indeed, than the brute creation, 
but lower than man, and meant by nature to minister to 
man’s wants and pleasures. Hence the Mohammedans con- 
sider the woman as deficient in judgment, and as no rational 
companion for her husband. Between the husband and his 



wife, or wives, there rarely exists genuine mutual affection, 
which essentially implies esteem and equality. As a con- 
sequence the character of the Mohammedan woman has 
become more or less debased. She is usually quite un- 
educated, is rarely devout, and often cunning and vicious — 
the very antithesis of the typical Christian woman. 

Among the “ After-Christians.” Marriage among the 
Protestant nations, or those that have abandoned Christianity 
wholly or in part, presents substantially the same leading 
features in all countries, whether in Europe, North America, 
Australasia, or Africa. Differences exist only in the degree 
to which in a particular country or at a particular period 
marriage and family life have been degraded. It is true 
that among these nations, districts and communities are 
sometimes found in which the people retain substantially 
the Christian ideals of family life, even for centuries after 
they have lost the integrity of the Christian faith. Among 
such types were the Puritan settlers in the New England 
States of America at the beginning of the 19th century, the 
English gentry, and in some places the better-class English 
farmer up to the middle of the same century. The same 
type survived in many of the districts of Holland, Saxony 
and Sweden down to our own day. A notable example of 
the non-Catholic but Christian family is that of the Russian 
peasant, at least as he was up to the Great War. 

But the prevailing tendency of nations which have lost 
the Catholic faith is to fall away from the true Christian 
ideals of marriage and family life. This tendency becomes 
more apparent in proportion as the memory and influence 
of the Catholic tradition grow' faint. Thus, in France, 
North America, throughout the British Empire (except 
among the Irish and the French Canadians) divorce is 
becoming dreadfully common, with its inevitable results of 
a general lowering of the moral standard, a fatal lessening 
of the intimacy and cordiality of the union between husband 
and wife, and a growing habit of infidelity to conjugal duties. 

Birth Control or Race Suicide. — Again, the unnatural vice 
of race-suicide is becoming more and more common, and is 
sapping the very life of the non-Catholic nations of the 



European civilisation . 1 The spread of this vice is due partly 
to the decay of the Christian spirit of self-sacrifice, which is 
needed to undergo willingly the burden of parenthood, 
partly to the spread of the false and unchristian theories 
of Political Economy which the writings of J. S. Mill and 
his school have made popular in the English-speaking 
countries, partly, as in France, to bad laws regarding in- 
heritance. It seems clear that the only path to national 
security for these nations is their return to the fold of the 
Catholic Church, and the re-establishment of the Christian 
standard of morals in the civil, the domestic, and the 
individual life of their people . 2 

1 Birth control is now openly approved of in Britain, even by the leaders 
of the Church of England. Thus a resolution of the Bishops of the 
Protestant Church of England and Ireland, at the Lambeth Conference, 
1930, was carried by 193 votes to 67 justifying the immoral practice of 
birth control, provided it be practised “ in the light of . . . Christian 
principles ! ” and “ not from motives of selfishness, luxury or mere con- 
venience.” Cf. Lambeth Conference , 1930 (Society for Promoting Christian 
Knowledge. Macmillan, London, pp. 43, 44). The same vice is also 
openly advocated by most of the non-Catholic British papers, which are 
still (1931) allowed to circulate in Ireland. 

2 Cf. the Encyclical of Pius XI on Christian Marriage, Casti Connubii 
(Dec., 1930), where the subject of Birth Control is fully treated. See also 
Sutherland, M.D. — Birth Control (Edinburgh, 1927) ; Devas — Political 
Economy, bk. i, chap, ix ; Castelein, op. cit.. Thesis 17, appendice ; Cronin — - 
Primer of the Principles of Social Science, part i, sect, v ; Science of Ethics, 
vol. ii, pp. 479-486. 


Art. 1 — Introduction 

Parental or Filial Society. — As already stated, the primary 
object of the conjugal union is the birth and education of 
children. For the purpose of the child’s education nature 
ordains not only that the union between the parents should 
continue after the child’s birth, but also that parents and 
children should form one closely-knit society. Hence the 
filial (or parental ) society, made up of parents and children, 
and having for its object the education of the latter, is an 
integral part of the family organism, and the natural comple- 
ment of the conjugal union. Unlike the conjugal society, 
however, which of its own nature is perpetual, the filial 
society undergoes essential alterations, or ceases altogether, 
as soon as the primary object of the union has been secured. 
When the cliild is fully grown and his education complete, 
he 1 may, consistently with the dictates of the natural law, 
cease to be a member of his parents’ family and be entirely 
emancipated from their control. 

Permanence of Parental and Filial Duties. — Even after 
this has taken place, however, some of the rights and 
obligations as between children and parents (all of which 
are included in the virtue of piety) still subsist. The mutual 
offices of parents and child, continuing during all the years 
of the child’s infancy and upbringing, produce close mutual 
ties and consequent obligations, which remain through life. 
With these, however, we are not directly concerned here, 
as they belong to the science of Ethics and Moral Theology. 
Suffice it to say that these duties include a permanent 
obligation on the parents’ part to love the child and to 
assist him when necessary in his spiritual and corporal needs. 

1 Throughout the chapter the masculine forms he and him are to be 
understood as referring to children of both sexes except the context 
clearly requires the contrary. 




They include on the child’s part the duties of love, reverence, 
and gratitude towards his parents, inasmuch as they are 
the authors of his being, and have been his protection, guide 
and support during the period of his infant helplessness, 
and the long years of his education. 

Special Reward of Filial Piety. — It is to this virtue of 
filial piety— the love and dutifulness of the child towards 
his parents, continuing during the life of the latter, and 
showing itself even in honouring their memory, and assisting 
their souls by prayer and sacrifices after their death — that 
God has promised a very special reward even in this life : 
“ Honour thy father and thy mother, which is the first com- 
mandment with a promise,” says St. Paul, “ that it may be 
well with thee, and that thou mayest be long-lived upon earth ” 1 
The temporal reward here promised is, of course, meant to 
be a pledge and a foreshadowing of the eternal recompense 
to come. 

Setting aside, therefore, the parental and filial duties which 
belong to the period when the education of the child has 
been completed, we confine ourselves to the relations that 
exist between parent and child while the child is still a 
minor. These relations involve rights and duties founded 
on the fact of parenthood and on the child’s essential need 
of the assistance of others during the period of his upbringing. 

Education — Its Nature . 2 — Man comes into the world in 
a state of helplessness which is more absolute and continues 
for a longer time than in the case of the offspring of any 

1 Eph. vi. 2, 3. 

" The classical document on the subject of Education is the recently 
issued Encyclical of Pius XI, Divini Illius (1929), “ On the Christian 
Education of Youth ” — of which official versions were issued from the 
Vatican in all the principal European languages. The pages referred to 
in quoting the Encyclical are those of the English Catholic Truth Society 
booklet entitled Christian Education of Youth by His Holiness Pius XI. 
Cf. also Leo XIII — Immortale Dei (1885), pp. 45 ff ; Sapientice Christiana 
(1890), p. 131 ; and Inscrutabili (1878), pp. 7, 8 ; Cath. Encyclop., arts, 
“Education 1 ’ and “Schools”; Meyer, op. cit., vol. ii, nn. 103-115; 
Costa-Rosetti op. cit.. Theses 144, 145 ; Koch Preuss, op. cit., part ii, 
chap, ii, pp. 511-548. Cf. also Dupanloup — The Child, (translated from 
the French by K. Anderson (Dublin, 1875). See Pastor — History of the 
Popes, voi. v, pp. 25 ff, for a useful summary of the matchless treatise — ■ 
On the Direction of the Family, by Bl. Giovanni Dominici, published early 
in the 15th century. 


of the lower animals. For the preservation of the child’s 
life and the due development even of his bodily faculties, 
diligent care and nursing are required extending over a 
period of many years. The faculties of the soul also, 
namely, the intellect and will, have to be developed by 
long and assiduous training. The mind needs to be fed 
with knowledge and furnished with sound principles ; the 
reasoning faculties to be gradually formed to the perception 
of truth ; and the will and all the higher instincts to be 
moulded little by little to habits of rectitude and a love 
of virtue. 

The whole process of nursing, bringing up, and training 
the child till he is fit to take his place as a fully-equipped 
member of civil society, is designated in scientific language 
by the term education. Education, as understood in this 
technical sense, denotes the sum of all those cares and 
activities by which the life and growth of the child’s body are 
safeguarded and promoted, and the due development of all 
his faculties, physical, mental and moral, is secured. The 
work of education, therefore, begins at the child’s birth, and 
is fully completed only when he has reached the mature 
age at which he can fully take care of himself. 

Its Importance. — It is almost a truism to say that the 
question of education dominates the whole life of the body 
politic, and that the due up bringing of the children lies at 
the very foundation of the welfare of the human race. For 
as the Wise Man says in the sacred Scriptures : “ A young 
man according to his way ; even when he is old he will not 
depart from it .” 1 In every climate and country, and in 
every age of recorded history, men and women remain 
through life mostly what their education has made them. 
Above all, the traits and dispositions that are developed in 
early years under the influence of family ideals and of the 
teachers with whom the children come into contact are 
rarely, if ever eradicated. 

The more advanced stages of education also, say between 
the ages of thirteen and twenty, exert an immense influence 
upon the after life and character of the man and woman ; 
for during that period, which is the transition stage from 

1 Prov. xxii. 6. 



youth to maturity, the character is particularly impression- 
able. 1 All this tends to prove the supreme importance of 
education not merely for the individual person, but for the 
family and the whole State whose perfection comes from 
the perfection of the elements that compose it : For, as 
Pius XI writes : 

" It [Education] aims at securing the Supreme Good, that 
is God, for the souls of those who are being educated and the 
maximum of temporal well-being for human society." 2 

This is why the Church has always so strongly emphasised 
the ultimate importance of Education. Thus Leo XIII 
writes : 

“ Where the right of educating youth is concerned no amount 
of trouble or labour how great soever can be undertaken, but 
that even greater still may not be called for.” 3 

To Whom the Duty of Education Belongs. — Although the 
duty and the right of educating the child belong by the 
natural law to the parents, the positive law of God has 
assigned to the Church essential and even primary functions 
in it. The civil society also amid which the child is born 
and brought up has certain interests and duties in regard 
to the education of its future citizens. These duties, 
although secondary and supplementary, have also to be 

Aggressive Policy of Modern States. — The policy of con- 
trolling and, as far as possible, secularising education 
initiated by the British Government in Ireland and by the 
Republican Government of France, was adopted in the 
19th century, though in varying degrees, by the govern- 
ments of several countries of Europe and America. It is 
pursued at present in its most extreme form by the Soviet 
Government of Russia. This fatal policy, the outcome of 
unchristian Liberalism, is perhaps the worst evil of the 
present day ; and constitutes the greatest menace to the 
spiritual and temporal welfare of the European races. 
State authorities strive under one pretext or another to 

1 Cf. a valuable article in The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, July, 193°, by 
Rev. R. Devane, S.J., entitled “ Adolescence and the Vocational Bill.” 

2 Divini lllius, 1929. 

3 Sapientice Christiance, p, 13, 




usurp the parents’ right of educating the child ; and, in 
addition, refuse to acknowledge the control and authority 
of the Church in any department of education. 

“ As for the State schools,” writes Leo XIII, “ it is well known 
that there is no ecclesiastical authority left in them ; and during 
the years when the tender minds should be trained carefully 
and conscientiously in the Christian virtues the precepts of 
religion are for the most part left untaught.” 1 

In order to convey a comprehensive idea of rights and 
duties in the matter of education, and to place in its true 
perspective its essential connection with the family, we 
shall treat the subject as a whole, taking into account the 
functions of the Church and the State as well as those of 
the parents. 

Art. 2 — Functions of Parents in Education 
Dictates of the Natural Law. — The main headings of 
Catholic teaching regarding the function of parents in the 
work of education are as follows : The natural law has 
assigned to the parents tho right and the duty of educating 
the child. Although the parents may, where necessary, 
delegate the execution of the duty to others, they cannot 
lay aside their own responsibilities, which are inalienable. 

All this follows from the fact that education is the natural 
complement of generation and birth — which are in a sense 
incomplete till the child’s faculties are developed by the 
work of education. Hence the parents, who are responsible 
for the child’s birth into the world, have the duty of com- 
pleting by education the work they have begun. 

“ It is certain,” writes Pius XI, " that both by the law of 
nature and of God this right and duty of educating their off- 
spring belongs in the first place to those who began the work 
of nature by giving them birth, and they are indeed forbidden 
to leave unfinished this work and so expose it to certain ruin.” 2 
Besides, the parents are by nature the most intimately 
connected with the child, who is, as it were, a portion and 
continuation of their own life and personality. They are 
consequently bound to administer to his essential needs 
almost as they are bound to attend to their own. 3 

1 Exeunle Jam Anno, 1888, p. 97. 

2 Casii Connubii, Dec. 31, 1930, p. 9. 

3 Cf. St. Thomas, 2*2®, Q. 10, a. 12. 



Teaching of the Church. — The Canon Law lays down : 

“ Parents are under a grave obligation to see to the religious 
and moral education of their children, as well as to their physical 
and civil training as far as they can, and, moreover, to provide 
for their temporal well-being. ” 1 

Consequently, the unchristian idea which has been gaining 
ground in modern times under the influence of Liberalism 
that the children belong to the State rather than to the 
family, and that the State has an absolute right over their 
education is contrary to the natural law and the teaching 
of the Church. 

“The children,’’ writes Leo XIII, “are something of the 
father, and as it were, an extension of the person of the father. 
. . . They enter into and become a part of civil society, not 
directly by themselves, but through the family in which they 
were born . . . and therefore the father’s power cannot be 
destroyed or absorbed by the State, for it has the same origin 
as human life itself .” 2 

In another place the same Pontiff adds : 

“ It is the duty of parents to make every effort to prevent 
any invasion of their rights in this matter, and to make 
absolutely sure that the education of their children remain 
under their own control in keeping with their Christian duty .” 3 

So jealous is the Church of the parents’ inviolable right to 
educate the children that, notwithstanding her earnest 
desire that all should belong to the true Church and be 
instructed in its laws, she never consents save under peculiar 
circumstances, and with special precautions to baptise the 
children of infidels, or provide for their education against 
the will of their parents, till the children have attained the 
age at which they can choose for themselves . 4 

Extent of Parental Authority. — The parents’ duties 
towards the child necessarily involve authority over him 
during the period of his education and the reciprocal 
obligation of obedience on his part. These mutual rights 
and duties, which continue till the child’s education is 
complete, are the bonds uniting parents and children into 
one family. 

1 Codex Juris Canonic*, C. 1113. -Rerum Novarum, 1891, p. 140. 

? Sapienties Christiance, 1890, p. 131. * Cf. Pius XI., ib., pp. 17, 18. 



The parents’ authority over the child is, like all human 
authority, subordinate to the natural and divine law. Its 
extent is limited by the end and purpose of the authority 
itself, namely, the due education of the child and the ruling 
of the household. Consequently, it would not include such 
a power as that of life and death or the right to sell the 
child into slavery, or to impose on him any unjust or in- 
human conditions. Consequently, the parents cannot inter- 
fere unduly with the child’s inborn right to select freely his 
own state of life, after he has arrived at an age when he is 
capable of making a prudent choice. In that matter it is 
the parents’ right and duty to advise and direct, not to 

Finally, parental authority becomes less stringent, or 
rather, less comprehensive in its scope, as the work of 
education goes on, and the child becomes more and more 
capable of taking care of himself ; but it does not cease till 
the child has attained his majority, or, in other words, 
reached the full age of maturity. What that age precisely 
is may vary according to climate and circumstances, and is 
usually defined by the civil or ecclesiastical law. 

Importance of Home Training.— The importance of the 
home training in the education of the child, and the parents’ 
responsibility and influence in his religious, moral and civil 
formation, cannot be too strongly emphasised. Pius XI 
calls special attention to the 

“ present day lamentable decline in family education,” and he 
deplores the fact that “ many parents immersed as they are in 
temporal cares, have got little or no preparation or training for 
the fundamental duty and obligation of educating their children. 
. . . The declining influence of domestic environment is further 
weakened by another tendency, which . . . causes children to 
be more and more frequently sent away from home even in the 
tenderest years.” 1 

The Pope also emphasises strongly the need of discipline 
and correction where necessary: for “just punishment is 
not to be described as despotism or violence ” ; and as the 
Wise Man says in the Holy Scriptures : “ Folly is bound, up 

i/6., p. 35. 



in the heart, of the child, and the rod of correction shall drive 
it away.’'’ 1 

" Disorderly inclinations,” he writes, “ the result of original 
sin from which all suffer, and which can never be ignored with 
safety, must then be corrected ; good tendencies encouraged and 
regulated from tender childhood ; and above all the mind must 
be enlightened and the will strengthened by supernatural truth, 
and by the means of grace, without which it is impossible to 
control evil impulses. 2 

It is the parents’ first duty to see that their child is 
properly instructed in religious knowledge, and habituated 
from his earliest infancy to the practice of his religious 
duties. They must secure that he is safeguarded from 
contact with evil example, and from all other kinds of 
dangerous influence, and that the home itself, as well as 
the school which the child frequents, and the school-books 
he uses, are filled with the atmosphere of religion. For it 
is only by such means that the religious spirit will grow and 
deepen with the development of the child’s mind and 

Art. 3 — The Church’s Function in Education 

Pre-Eminence of the Church’s Rights. — Man has been 
raised by God’s free ordinance to the supernatural state 
the perfection and culmination of which are to be founded 
in the eternal union of man’s soul with God Himself in 
Heaven. Now, the Church has supreme control of every- 
thing connected with man’s supernatural state, the interest 
of which must necessarily outweigh all others. It is an 
inference from these truths that in the present order of 
God’s Providence the Church’s rights and duties in the 
education of the children are pre-eminent and superior to 
all others, seeing that these others are founded on nature 

This pre-eminence of the supernatural over- the natural 
order and the consequent superiority of the Church’s 
authority and rights are not opposed to any rights founded 

1 Prov. xii. 15. “Teach a child its duty,” says the late Dr. Hedley, 
“ and then enforce it. ... It is no use beating a child, if you cannot 
persuade it also " (cf. Wilson’s Life of Dr. Hedley). 

2 lb., p. 29. 



merely upon nature, for both orders come from God 
Who cannot contradict Himself. Hence the Church’s pre- 
rogatives and rights, and their pre-eminence over all merely 
natural rights and duties, far from colliding with the legiti- 
mate authority and rights of the family and the State tend 
to safeguard and secure them, in accordance with the words 
of Jesus Christ : “ Seek ye first the Kingdom of Ood, and 
His Justice, and all these things shall be added unto you .” 1 

Foundation of the Church’s Title to Educate. — The 

Church’s authority in the matter of education is made clear 
by the express words, of her Divine Founder : “All power 
is given to me in heaven and on earth. Going therefore teach 
ye all nations : baptising them in the name of the Father, and 
of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost . . . and behold I am with 
you all days, even to the consummation of the world .” 2 

From these words it follows, as Pius IX writes, that : 

“ the Church has been set by her Divine Author as the pillar 
and ground of truth in order to teach the divine faith to men . . . 
to direct and fashion men, in all their actions individually and 
socially, to purity of morals and integrity of life in accordance 
with revealed doctrine .” 3 

The Church’s right to control and direct education also 
follows from her supernatural motherhood, in virtue of 
which she “ the spotless Spouse of Christ, generates, nurtures 
and educates souls in the divine life of grace, with her 
sacraments and her doctrine .” 4 In other words the Church 
being the parent of the Christian as to his spiritual life, has 
a primary right to educate the Christian child just as his 
natural parents have. 

Comprehensiveness and Independence of Church’s Function. 

— Furthermore, the Church being a perfect society is in- 
dependent of any earthly power in the free use of the means 
conducive to the end for which she was founded. Now 
every form of instruction has a necessary connection with 
men’s eternal salvation, and is therefore subject to the 

1 Matth. vi. 33. Cf. also Pius XX, ib., pp. 12, 13. 2 lb. xxviii. 18-20. 

3 Quam non sine , 1884. (Cf. Fontes Jur. Can., vol. ii, p. 984, cited by 

Pius XI, ib., pp. 6, 7). 

4 Pius XI, ib., p. 7. 



dictates of the divine law of which the Church is the inter- 
preter and the guardian . 1 Prom these principles the 
following inferences may be drawn : 

(a) Church’s Authority Supreme in Teaching Faith and 
Morals. — In the moral and religious education of the child, 
the parents, and those to whom the child’s education may 
be entrusted act as the mandatories of the Church, and 
are directly subject to the Church’s control and guidance. 
Besides, in all matters which may affect the child’s spiritual 
interests even indirectly, they are bound by the . divine law 
to abide by the Church’s decisions. 

Consequently, the Bishop of the diocese, in the first 
instance, or, in cases referring to the whole country, the 
higher ecclesiastical authorities sueh as a Plenary Synod, 
or, in the last resort, the Holy See can give authoritative 
decisions, which Catholics are bound to obey, as to the 
suitability or non-suitability for Catholic pupils of a certain 
system of education, of a particular college or university, 
or even of a special text- book. 

(b) Can Found Schools and Universities. — The Church 
has an inalienable right independent of all State authority 
to found schools of all kinds, not only for the teaching of 
matters which directly affect faith and morals, but for the 
teaching of any or all subjects whatsoever. 

“ With full right,” again writes Pius XT, “ the Church pro- 
motes letters, science and art, in so far as necessary or helpful 
to Christian education in addition to her work for the salvation 
of souls, founding and maintaining schools and institutions, 
adapted to every branch of learning and culture. Nor may even 
physical culture, as it is called, be considered outside the range 
of her maternal supervision, for it also is a means which may 
help or harm Christian education .” 2 

1 lb., pp. 7, 8. 

2 lb., p. 9. Cf. also Cod. Jur. Can., C. 1375. "The Church has the 
right to found schools for every class of education, whether elementary, 
secondary or higher." Hence the dissolution or expulsion by the civil 
authority of the religious congregations, or the suppression of the eccle- 
siastical or monastic schools, colleges or universities, such as took place 
in Ireland and Britain in the 16th and 17th centuries, and in recent times 
in France, Portugal, Mexico, and Russia, and is now (1931) threatened 
in Spain, is unjust, tyrannical, and a direct violation of the divinely-given 
prerogatives of the Church. 


(c) Her Great Educational Resources. — We have in another 
place 1 seen how the Church has been the inspirer and pro- 
moter of education and of all branches of science both 
sacred and profane ; and how the whole civilisation and 
true culture of the European races arc founded upon the 
Church’s efforts and the Church’s teaching. The means of 
education, which the Church has at her disposal arc count- 
less. They include the Sacraments — those divinely insti- 
tuted means of obtaining the helps and graces which the 
child needs to acquire virtuous habits and overcome unruly 
passions. There are besides the philosophical formation 
and mental culture which a knowledge even of the essential 
religious truths imply. Included also are the sacred ritual 
and liturgy which are so wonderfully instructive and 
inspiring. Even the material fabric of the Churches and 
other ecclesiastical buildings, as well as the treasures of art 
which they contain, have an immense educational value. 
Finally must be reckoned the great .number and variety of 
schools, associations and institutions of all kinds, which the 
Church has established for the training of youth not only 
in Christian piety but also in literature and science, as well 
as her various institutions for recreation and physical 
culture . 2 

As a result of all this the ordinary Catholic boy or girl 
has at command in the institutions of religion an opportunity 
of education and culture, including intellectual training, 
which is far superior to anything that the children of the 
non-Catholic of the same social class possess. 

Hence the State has no right to obstruct or interfere with 
the teaching activity of the Church or to refuse the fullest 
recognition to the Church’s schools, universities, diplomas, 
and academic degrees. Nay the State is bound to encourage 
and assist in due measure the Church’s schools as being 
most of all in accord with Christian tradition and the spirit 
of the Divine law. 

( d ) Her Teaching Authority Extends to Ail, even Non- 
Catholic Nations. — The Church’s mission as educator 
embraces every nation without exception ; and in its ful- 

1 Of. Supra, chaps, iii to v. 

2 lb., p. 36. 



filment her God-given authority is subject to no earthly 

“ The extent of the Church’s mission,” writes Pius XI, “ in 
the field of education is such as to embrace every nation without 
exception, according to the command of Christ, ‘ Teach ye all 
nations,’ and there is no power on earth that may lawfully 
oppose her or stand in her way. . . . Her mission to educate 
extends equally to those outside the fold, seeing that all men 
are called to enter the Kingdom of God and seek eternal 
salvation.” 1 

(e) Can Supervise All Teaching of Catholics. — The Church 
is bound in virtue of her office, and, consequently, has an 
inalienable right to supervise secular teaching and even 
the pupil’s whole training as far as may be found necessary 
in order to safeguard him against all danger to faith or 
morals. This right of supervision extends to all manner of 
schools and institutions, whether religious or otherwise, 
in which Catholics are educated. 

“ It is,” writes Pius XI, “ the inalienable right as well as the 
indispensable duty of the Church to watch over the entire 
education of her children, in all institutions public or private, 
not merely in regard to the religious instruction there given, 
but in regard to every other branch of learning, and every regu- 
lation in so far as religion and morality are concerned.” 2 

The rights and authority of the Church in these matters 
are thus summarised in the Sacred Canons : 

C. 1381. “ The religious education of the children in all schools 
whatsoever is subject to the authority and inspection of the 
Church. ‘‘The Ordinaries [viz., the Bishop of the diocese and 
his official representatives] have the right and the duty to take 
care that nothing contrary to faith or morals be taught, or any 
unlawful custom or conduct tolerated in any school within their 

“ The teaching of religious knowledge and the books used are 
also subject to their approval. Furthermore, for the purpose 
of safeguarding religion and morals, they have the power to 
demand the removal of any teacher from the school, or to forbid 
the use of any book. 

C. 1382. “ They have also the right of visitation and inspection, 
to be exercised personally or by their delegates, of all schools 
whatsoever, as well as all institutions for recreation, protection, 
patronage, etc., with a view to the religious and moral interests 
there concerned.” 3 

1 lb., pp. 11, 12. 2 lb., p. jo. 3 Codex Jur. Can., Canons 1381, 13S2. 



Art. 4 — Functions of the State in Education 

Not Founded on Parenthood. The rights and duties of 
the State in education, not being founded upon a title of 
fatherhood, are on a completely different plane from those 
of the Church and the family. The State, unlike the Church, 
is in no sense the parent of its members, who exist before 
it and whose rights are prior to those of the State. The 
end and object of the State’s existence is to secure for its 
members the free exercise of their rights, and to assist 
them to attain to the highest spiritual and temporal well- 
being. From this we may gather what its proper functions 
in education are. These may be summarised as follows : 

(a) Should Protect and Assist the Work of Parents and 
Church. — The first duty of the State in education is to 
safeguard and enforce the God-given rights of the parents 
and the Church, in carrying on and controlling the education 
of the children. In matters which need the assistance of 
public resources or the support of the arm of the law, the 
State is bound under this heading to supply that assistance 
as far as it can. Hence, it is a primary duty of the civil 
government to remove the public dangers and impediments, 
which may obstruct or counteract the religious and moral 
formation of the rising generation ; for the State alone can 
effectually deal with such matters. Consequently, it is the 
duty of the State and the municipal authorities to take 
effective measures against youth being exposed to the 
degrading influence of the modern unchristian press and 
cinema and improper public amusements and shows, which 
so often lead to the undoing of the best efforts of the Church 
and of Catholic parents. 

“Snares and temptations to sin abound,” writes Leo XIII; 
“ impious and immoral dramas are exhibited on the stage ; 
books and the daily press jeer at virtue and ennoble crime ; and 
the fine arts themselves, which were intended for virtuous use, 
and rightful recreation are made to minister to depraved passion. 
Nor can we look to the future without fear ; for the seeds of evil 
are continually being sown broadcast in the hearts of the rising 
generation.” 1 

As to the schools themselves the State should begin by 
encouraging and assisting good private schools, due to the 

1 Exeunte Jam Anno, 1888, p. 97. 



initiative of the Church or the parents. State schools are 
to be set up only where private schools and those of the 
Church are found to be insufficient. 

“ It (viz., the State) should begin,” writes Pius XI, “ by 
encouraging and assisting of its own accord the initiative and 
activity of the Church and the family whose successes in this 
field have been clearly demonstrated by history and experience. 
It should, moreover, supplement their work whenever it falls 
short of what is necessary even by means of its own schools and 
institutions .” 1 

The State may, where necessary, force the parents by 
means of suitable legal sanctions to fulfil their duties towards 
their children but it cannot, at least in normal circum- 
stances, legitimately deal with the child except through 
the parents. On this subject Pius XI again writes : 

“ The State can exact and take measures to secure that all 
its citizens have the necessary knowledge of their civil and 
political duties, and a certain degree of physical, intellectual 
and moral culture, which, considering the circumstances of our 
times, is really necessary for the common good .” 2 

( b ) And in Exceptional Cases even Assume Direct Control. — 

The State can assume direct control of the child’s education 
only in the comparatively rare cases, when, the parents 
being dead, the child has no other suitable guardians; or 
when unnatural parents completely and invincibly neglect 
their parental duties. In such cases the civil power may, 
in default of suitable agencies organised by private charity 
(which is the preferable, and in a Christian country should 
be the normal alternative), assume the parents’ place, 
taking care, however, that the religious and moral training 
of the child be earned out under the direction and guidance 
of the Church. Pius XI, treating of this phase of the 
subject, writes : 

“ It also belongs to the State to protect the rights of the child 
itself, when the parents are found wanting . . . whether by 
default, incapacity or misconduct. . . . In such cases, exceptional 
no doubt, the State does not put itself in the place of the family, 
but merely supplies deficiencies, and provides suitable means, 
always, however, in conformity with the natural rights of the 
child, and the supernatural rights of the Church .” 3 

1 Divini Illius, p. 20. 2 lb., p. 20. 3 lb., pp. ig, 20. 



(c) May Reserve to Itself a Certain Type of Higher 
Schools.— The State may legitimately reserve to itself the 
establishment and direction of schools intended to prepare 
candidates for certain civil duties, connected with the due 
administration of public affairs and especially with military 
service. The reason assigned for this is that these functions 
call for special aptitudes and special preparation, and are 
directly concerned with the public good, which it is the 
special duty of the State to safeguard and promote. Even 
in such schools, however, care must be taken that the rights 
of the Church and of the parents are safeguarded and 
respected . 1 

(d) Should Carry on Civic Education. — It is also a portion 
of the functions of the State to provide what may be called 
civic education not only for the youth, but for all ages and 
classes. This is described by Pius XI as consisting 

“ in the practice of presenting publicly to groups of individuals 
information having an intellectual, imaginative and emotional 
appeal, calculated to draw their wills to what is upright and 
honest and to urge its practice by a sort of moral compulsion, 
positively by disseminating knowledge and negatively sup- 
pressing what is opposed to it .” 2 

It is in accordance with the principle here laid down that 
in some countries the State assumes practical control of 
the cinema, as well as the radio, which it utilises for 
educational purposes. 

State Monopoly Unlawful and Perilous. — Finally, regarding 
the functions of the State in education, the following words 
of the Pope are of special importance : 

“ Unjust and unlawful is any monopoly educational or schol- 
astic, which physically or morally forces families to make use of 
government schools , contrary to the dictates of the Christian 
conscience, or contrary even to their legitimate preferences ,” 3 

State monopoly of education (wdiich, even at its best, 
is contrary to the whole tendency of the natural law) is 
always full of the greatest danger to the public good, and 
to the spiritual interests of the people. It places in the 

1 Divini Illius, p. 21. 2 lb., p. 22. 3 lb., pp. 10-20. 



hands of a bureaucracy the power, which will inevitably 
be sometimes abused, of moulding the character and the 
ideals of the whole people. Such a monopoly, though not 
asserted in theory, is in practice brought about where the 
State, by confining its patronage and its subsidies to the 
State schools, or by dictating school programmes, which all 
schools must follow in order to obtain State subsidies, 
virtually crushes out private schools. For it thus directly 
forces most parents to send their children to the schools 
controlled by the State, or at least to adopt the State 
programme of education. Voluntary schools whose pro- 
gramme and administration are in no respect under State 
control have an equal claim, and, as their constitution is 
more in accord with the dictates of the natural and the 
Divine law, a far greater claim upon the patronage and the 
subsidies of the State. Hence, it will be the policy of a 
really Christian government to assist and multiply efficient 
and suitable voluntary schools. Such a government will 
also avoid the pernicious practice of forcing schools under 
the penalty of forfeiting the State subsidies to follow a 
uniform programme fixed by the State. 

The imposition of a uniform programme and system which 
all the schools must adopt in order to obtain State subsidies, 
and which all the pupils, whether urban or rural, are practi- 
cally forced to follow no matter what their individual needs 
or future intentions may be, is manifestly unnatural and 
unsound, and is especially so in a country whose population 
is largely rural. Moreover, the consequent competition of 
the schools and of the children in public written examinations 
tends to pervert the true idea of education, and degrade 
it to a commercial level. 

Art. 5 — The Moral and Religious Elements in the Schools 

Religious Teaching at Every Stage. — To ensure the due 
moral and religious education of the young generation it is 
not sufficient that the schools in which the youth are trained 
recognise the control of the Church and that all harmful 
influences be eliminated. Positive religious teaching should 
form an important element in the child’s education at every 
stage, so that the religious spirit may grow and deepen with 
the development of the child’s mind and character. The 



degree of religious knowledge and religious training that 
may suffice for an illiterate man would be inadequate for 
one of moderate literary attainments ; and what may do 
sufficiently well for the latter would fall far short of the 
standard necessary for the university graduate, the 
journalist, the scientist, or the statesman. 

Hence, the Catholic Church ordains that religious doctrine 
and religious training must, in every system of education, 
form an essential part of the programme in the primary, the 
vocational or technical, the secondary or intermediate and 
the university and professional schools. 

“ The school,” writes Pius XI, “ must not be in opposition to, 
but in positive accord with, the . . . family and the Church, 
and constitute as it were one sanctuary of education with them. 
Otherwise it is doomed to fail of its purpose and to become instead 
an agent of destruction. For as a layman [Nicholas Tommaseo], 
famous for his pedagogical writings, says ‘ . . . The school, if 
not a temple, is a den,’ And again, ‘when literary, social, 
domestic and religious education do not go hand in hand, man 
is unhappy and helpless.’ ” 1 

The precepts of the Canon Law on this subject are as 
follows : 

C. 1372. “ All the faithful are to be so trained from their 
childhood that not only nothing be imparted to them contrary 
to the Catholic faith or good morals, but that religion and moral 
training be given a foremost place in their education. 

C. 1373. “ In every elementary school the children must 
receive religious training suited to their age. Young people 
attending intermediate or higher schools [such as university 
colleges or professional and vocational schools] must receive a 
fuller religious training ; and let the ecclesiastical authorities 
take care that this be done by priests who are distinguished for 
learning and zeal.” 2 

Catholic Environment in Every School and Educational 
System.— But mere religious instruction is not sufficient. 
Religion cannot be treated as a subject apart like mathe- 
matics or literature or physical drill. It must enter into 
every detail of the child’s training. 

“ It is necessary,” writes Pius XI, “ that all the teaching and 
the whole organisation of the school as well as the teachers, the 

1 /&., p. 37. 2 Cod. Jur. Can., Canons 1372, 1373. 



syllabus and the text-books in every branch be regulated by 
the Christian spirit, under the direction and maternal supervision 
of the Church, so that religion may be in very truth the founda- 
tion and crown of the youth’s entire training, and this in every 
grade of school, not only the elementary but also the inter- 
mediate and higher institutions of learning.” 1 

The Pope here only repeats and confirms the precepts 
already strongly insisted on by Leo XIII who, treating of 
the same matter, writes : 

“ It is necessary not only that religious instruction be given 
to the young at certain fixed times, but also that every other 
subject taught be permeated with Christian piety. If this is 
wanting, if this sacred atmosphere does not pervade and warm 
the heart of masters and scholars alike, little good can be ex- 
pected from any kind of learning and considerable harm will 
often be the consequence.” 2 

“ Neutral ” or “ Mixed ” Schools. — It is principally in 
order to ensure that the atmosphere of the school, the pro- 
gramme of study, the general spirit and tone of the teaching 
should be permeated with the spirit of religion and Catholic 
piety, that the Church forbids the faithful to frequent neutral 
or mixed schools, or any others except those which are 
definitely and entirely Catholic. Thus the Canon Law lays 
down : 

C. 1374. “ Catholics must not frequent non-Catholic schools 
nor such as are open to non-Catholics or have no particular 
religion. It belongs solely to the Ordinary of the diocese to 
decide, in accordance with the rules made by the Holy See, in 
what particular circumstances the attendance of Catholics at 
such schools may be tolerated ; and [in case their attendance is 
permissible] what safeguards are to be applied to avoid danger 
of perversion.” 3 

Pius XI treating of the same subject writes : 

“ The so-called ‘ neutral ’ or ‘ lay ’ school from which religion 
is excluded is contrary to the fundamental principles of education. 
Such a school, moreover, cannot exist in practice : it is bound 
to become irreligious. . . . Neither can Catholics admit that 

1 lb. r f. 38. 

2 Militantis Ecclesitz ( 1897). (Fontes Jur. Can., vol. iii, p. 520). Cf. also 
Actes de Leon XIII, vol. v, p. 198 (Maison de la Bonne Presse, Paris). 

3 Cod. Jur. Can., C. 1374. 



other type of mixed school [least of all the ecole unique — 
obligatory on all] in which the students are provided with 
separate religious instruction, but receive other lessons, in 
common with non-Catholic pupils, from non-Catholic teachers .” 1 

These regulations of the sacred canons by which the 
“ neutral ” or “ lay ” schools are definitely condemned are 
only a repetition of prohibitions already repeatedly issued 
by Pius IX and Leo XIII ever since the middle of the last 
century when these schools began to arise in Britain, Europe 
and America under the influence of Liberalism and Free- 
masonry . 2 

The compulsory education of children free of charge in 
the State schools without regard to religion has been one 
of the most important items of Masonic policy all over the 
world for the past seventy years. The following citation 
from the official declaration of the Supreme Council of 
A. and A. Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, U.S. A., issued 

1 Divini Illius, pp. 37, 38. Cf. also Leo XIII — Militantis Ecclesiee (1897). 
(Forties Jur. Can., vol. ii, p. 5x9). 

The primary or " National ” Schools of Ireland have never been 
approved by the Holy See or the Irish Bishops. They are only tolerated ; 
for in their conception and legal constitution, they are " neutral ” or 
“ mixed ” schools. Although in their practical working they have, in 
the course of time, approximated more and more to the standard and 
character of Catholic schools, they still remain only tolerated as being 
sufficiently “ safe for Catholics ' (tutas pro Catholicis), especially as the 
reading books are not always definitely Catholic, but of such a character 
as to suit non-Catholics equally well. The Maynooth Synod specifies the 
conditions upon which the limited approbation given to the National 
Schools may be continued. These are — that : 

(a) The present Managerial System by which the school remains under 
the management and control of the Parish Priest or some other priest 
approved by the Bishop be maintained. 

(b) That the school buildings remain under the control and ownership 
of the ecclesiastical authorities, and, 

(c) That the appointment and dismissal of teachers remain in the hands 
of the clerical Manager and subject in each case to the express approval 
of the Bishop. 

In what are called the “ Model Schools ’’ the above conditions still 
remain unrealised : and hence these schools remain under the Church's 
ban as being, in the full sense, “ neutral” and “ mixed,” and therefore 
unsuitable for Catholic children. The Synod adds, however, that if certain 
conditions be fulfilled, the Bishop of the particular diocese in which one 
of these schools is situated, may allow Catholic children to attend it. 

(Cf. Concil. Plen. Maynut. (1927) Acta el Decreta, Tit. xxxviii, n. 386 — 
Dublin, X929). 

2 Cf. Pius XI, ib., p. 37, where references are given to the preceding 



in 1921, is worth quoting, as it defines the Masonic aim 
accurately and definitely : 

“ We approve and reassert our belief in the free and com- 
pulsory education of the children of our nation in public primary 
schools supported by public taxation, which all children shall 
attend and be instructed in the English language only, without 
regard to race or creed ; and we pledge the efforts of the member- 
ship of the Rite to promote by all lawful means the organisation 
extension and development to the highest degree of such schools 
and to continually oppose the efforts of any and all who seek 
to limit, curtail or destroy the public school system of our land.” 1 

Concerning countries where there are different religious 
beliefs, Pius XI writes : 

" In such a case it becomes the duty of the State ... to 
leave free scope to the initiative of the Church and the family, 
while giving them such assistance as justice demands. That 
this can be done to the full satisfaction of families and to the 
advantage of education ... is clear from the actual experience 
of some countries comprising different religious denominations.” 2 

Non-Catholic Schools and Universities. — It is in accordance 
with the general principles of Catholic discipline that the 
Plenary Synod of Maynooth (1927) renews in such strong 
terms its precepts against Catholics attending Trinity 
College, Dublin, or any other non-Catholic college, and 
forbids priests and clerics of all grades, even wider pain 
of grave sin, to advise or recommend in any way, parents or 
guardians to send the youth under their charge to Trinity 
College, or to recommend the youths themselves to attend it. 3 
The Fathers of the same synod also expressly and definitely 
forbid Irish parents to send their children, whether boys 

1 See the front page of The New Age , official organ of the A. & A. S. R., 
in which this declaration regularly appears printed in heavy type. The 
New Age is published monthly at 1735 16th Street, New York. The 
Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry is probably the most 
dangerous and the most profoundly anti-Christian section of Freemasonry. 
Its centre is in the United States of America. It has affiliated sections 
in most countries of America and Europe. It is very strong in Great 
Britain and Ireland. Cf. Ca hill — Freemasonry, etc. (2nd edit., 1930), 
pp. 18, 38, 44, 45, 140, etc. 

* Divini Illius, p. 39. On this subject, cf. a very useful and interesting 
series of articles in The Irish Monthly, vols. 57 and 58 (1929-1930), by 
N. Umis, M.A.). 

3 Condi. Plen. Maynut. (1927), Acta et Decreta, Tit. xxxix, n. 398. 
In this prohibition and by the injunctions regularly repeated in their 
pastorals, the Irish Bishops decide in accordance with Canon 1374 
quoted above, that the circumstances which may make it necessary 




or girls, to non-Catholic schools. 1 The Colleges of the 
present National University on the other hand, although 
“ neutral ” or “ mixed,” are allowed as being, owing to 
special circumstances and certain precautions adopted, 
“ sufficiently safe for Catholics as far as faith and morals 
are concerned ” (quoad fidem et mores satis tuta). 

The Synod of Maynooth also allows Catholic youths to 
attend “ neutral ” day technical or agricultural schools at 
which only these arts or sciences are taught and no further 
cultural education given. The Synod, however, adds the 
injunction that the parish priest should personally, or 
through his curate, give to the pupils attending these schools, 
a fuller course of religious instruction. 2 

The Synod strictly forbids Catholics to live as boarders 
in any of these technical or agricultural schools, with the 
proviso, however, that the Bishop of the diocese may, for 
special reasons, give permission to do so in any particular 

Art. 6 — Some Further Points Regarding Christian Education 

The following additional matter having reference to the 
general subject of Education may be useful, as illustrating 
more fully the Catholic standpoint and ideals. 

Safeguarding Parents’ Control over their Children.— The 

civil authority should by suitable law s co-operate in securing 
for parents full power to control and correct their children 
(whereas in many countries, especially in France, the United 
States, and, to a growing extent, in England, the civil laws 
tend in the opposite direction). Thus the State should 
make it illegal to employ any boy or girl under age without 
the express consent of the parents ; and, in case such boys 

or justifiable in some countries to tolerate temporarily the attendance 
of Catholic children at non-Catholic schools, do not exist in Ireland. 
In face of these prohibitions and of the inevitable harm which 
must result for the children themselves, not to speak of the public scandal, 
it is difficult to see how Irish parents sending their children to non-Catholic 
schools can be excused from grave sin. 

1 Concil. Plen. Maynut. (1927), Acta et Decreta, Tit. xli, nn. 403, 404. 

2 lb.. Tit. xl, n. 402. The permission here given to attend “ neutral ” 
technical schools would not apply to technical schools which include cul- 
tural courses such as literature, history, etc., in the programme. Catholics, 
therefore, could not frequent such schools, according to the Church’s 
discipline, except the schools are exclusively Catholic. 



or girls are employed, the wages should be placed by law 
under the parents’ control . 1 

“ Free Education for All.” — The principles implied in 
the shibboleth, “ Free Education for all,” which have been 
gaining ground in modern times, under the influence of 
Liberalism and Socialism, are full of danger to the interests 
of family life, especially where the free education is to be 
given at the public expense in State schools. The danger 
becomes greater when the State or the municipal authority 
supplies books, stationery, and medical attendance, and 
sometimes even free meals , 2 to the children. 

This system, suggesting as it does that the children belong 
to the State rather than to the parents, tends to withdraw 
both teachers and children from the parents’ control. 
Besides, parents do not, under a system of the kind, take 
the same interest in the child’s education as they do when 
they themselves defray at least some portion of the expenses. 
Hence it seems most desirable, in the best interests of both 
child and parent, that the latter shoul